I have started stretching before going to sleep. Nothing too extreme. Just the normal head-to-toe stretches you did in your Grade 9 gym class. Doing so helps prevent any injuries I may incur while doing the dangerous activity we all refer to as, sleeping.
What’s that? It doesn’t? Well, lalalala not listening.
A few weeks ago, I realized I was waking up with soreness. I believe, “general soreness” is the scientific term. It felt like I had a hip-pointer and I don’t even know what that feels like.
For a while, I have struggled with where to put my arms when I sleep. My bed is not big. There is nowhere for them to go. One of them inevitably ends up under my pillow, while the other one is nearby waiting to get tagged in.
So, I wake up and my arms are sore.
Not lately, though.
At this time, I will walk you through my pre-sleep stretches, as to sound like an authority figure on the subject. The words and descriptions I use may not be accurate, or what Google says, but that’s why words have synonyms.
Also, this is the closest I will ever get to explaining a workout (is that a phrase?) to anyone, so I am going to enjoy it.
Step one involves turning off the lights and opening Spotify to a song. Then I stand up and close my eyes because if the room is dark, what am I looking at anyways?
I start with my head. I look left, I look right. No dead skunk in the middle of the road.
If you did not get that reference, I probably sound weirder than usual. If you did get that reference, you get a scratch-and-sniff sticker.
Then I do neck rolls, which involves dramatically looking to my left and right, but only after my chin touches my chest. If you have stubble, it may get caught on your shirt and/or scratch your body, so suck it up, fruit cup.
I remember my gym teacher telling us to never roll our head backwards, so don’t do that. Don’t do a full moon Joe Louis. Only a half moon Joe Louis.
Next up are shoulders. I do about ten shoulder rolls forward. It feels like they’re on a rowing team. Then I do ten shoulder rolls backwards. It feels like a pirate ship is coming after their rowboat. Get back to the shore!
I realize that I am probably ruining your future stretching exercises, and for that, I am grateful. When you roll your shoulders, think of me.
Then I stretch my right arm across and support it with my left. After ten seconds, they switch. Then my right hand goes behind my head to touch my left shoulder. It’s like passing notes in school, but more obvious. Then my left arm sends a note back to my right shoulder.
The next exercise is arm circles. Hold your arms out to your sides, so you look like the letter, “T”. I’ll do small circles forward for the first ten, and then I’ll let them get bigger as I reach twenty, until it looks like I’m trying to fly away.
Then do it again with your arms going the other way.
Do not do this in heavy winds, you might get airborne.
This brings us to the hips. Put your hands on your hips, like you’re a superhero, or a cast member on a dating show. And then do circular motions.
In my Grade 9 gym class, we called this, “The Washing Machine”. So, do that. Don’t worry, we’ll Tumble Dry later.
Exercise is all about circular motion. Everything is either clockwise or counter-clockwise. If it’s counter-clockwise, it means you should’ve done it yesterday. Think about it.
After this, it’s time to tell the legs to do stuff. Touch your posterior (we’re being uber professional with terms today) with one foot and hold it there for 10 seconds, and then switch legs.
You can also stretch out your stance, so you look like an outfielder, and lean to one side and then the other. Doing so will do something, but you’ll never know what.
Finally, it’s time to get the feet involved. I just rotate them ten times each way. You never know when you’ll be running through someone else’s dreams, right?
The final thing I do is hold my arms up, like the contestants on Masterchef do when Gordon Ramsey says, “Time’s Up! Step away from the food.” You know the pose.
Then I’ll just shake my arms up and down so my hands feels like they’re going to fall off, but then the wrist pulls them back. Wrists are quite heroic.
Finally, I’ll stretch my arms up and try to touch to the ceiling, while Woody from Toy Story says, “Reach for the sky” in my head.
Then I’ll try and touch my toes, but my fingers and feet are like two north poles of a magnet.
If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll add in a few more stretches. One of them is I’ll pretend I’m a cross-country skier, but only move my arms and keep my body as still as possible.
I think it activates my core. Or maybe it aggravates my core. Who is to know?
I’m not sure if pretending to be a cross-country skier does anything. Maybe I should try it in a circular motion?
Within five minutes, or less, I’ve completed my stretches and can proceed to watch Netflix for the next two hours before actually falling asleep.
Since starting these stretches before going to bed, I don’t wake up feeling sore anymore. I should probably do stretches in the morning too, but I don’t feel like it.
I do a one-minute plank most mornings, and by the end of that I just want food.
I always hated stretching before gym class, as a kid. I thought it was a waste of time. What are they warming me up for? I’m not a bag of microwave popcorn. I’m a bag of Smartfood popcorn! I come ready.
Now I get it. They were preparing us for old age.
Anyway, this post turned into something I didn’t anticipate, which means I have material for another blog post related to sleeping, that you’ll see another day.
For now, though, I want to say “sleep tight”, but we just stretched, so I guess “sleep loose” would be more appropriate? That sounds weird, though.
So, go nestle your pillow.
Yup, that works as a blog sign-off. Just as long as you don’t think I meant “Nestlé”, like the food company.
Thou shalt not stuff your pillowcase with chocolate!
You will wake up with a stomach ache.
Do you sleep well? Do you wake up feeling sore? Have I ruined stretches for you, based on how I described them?