Sleep is one of the pillars of good health, along with food and exercise. Lack of quality sleep is associated with many chronic diseases such as burnout, heart disease, depression, and chronic pain. For athletes, sleep is the time for cellular repair and is an essential part of a training program.
Stress and overstimulation can accumulate during the day, making it difficult to get quality rest. Foam rolling, when done correctly, activates the parasympathetic nervous system and gets your body ready to enter deep, restorative sleep. Try this relaxing five-minute pre-sleep routine and notice the benefits.
1. Quads + Hip Flexors
Most of us tighten up during the day in the front of our bodies — from sitting, driving, walking, or spin class. Spend a minute rolling along the front of your legs. Keep the pressure medium as you don’t want to trigger a fight-or-flight response by rolling too intensely. Remember to breathe. Hold any particularly tight spots until you feel them release.
2. Child's Pose Lats Stretch
Open up the shoulders and decompress the spine. Stretch out to the front while sitting your hips back toward your ankles. Hold gently for one minute while focusing on relaxed diaphragm breathing and feeling a stretch under the shoulders. On each exhalation, sit your hips back a little deeper.
3. Thoracic Roll + Arch
Lift your hips off the mat while keeping your head supported with your hands. Roll the upper back from the lower shoulder blade to upper shoulder blade. You may feel a release and some cracks in your back (this is a good thing!). Continue for one minute. Bring your hips down to the mat. Gently arch over the foam roller and take a few deep breaths.
4. Pecs Stretch
Relax the arms out to the side and feel a gentle stretch in the front of the shoulders. Focus on relaxing your entire body while breathing in through your nose and out through the mouth. Hold for one minute.
5. Diaphragm Breathing
Place one hand on your diaphragm and one hand high up on your chest. Feel where your breath is being initiated from, without trying to control anything. Then place both hands on the outside of your lower ribs and feel an expansion as you inhale. Breathe in for a count of five seconds and breathe out for five seconds. Continue for one minute.
Here are a few other tips for good sleep:
- Go to bed and set your alarm for the same time every day.
- Switch off laptops, tablets, and phones two hours before sleep time.
- Eliminate caffeine.
- Use an eye mask.
- Relax and don't stress about trying to fall asleep.