Are coronavirus worries keeping you awake? Stretching in bed will calm you

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Doctor with stethoscope
Valley News - Health

LOS ANGELES – Anxiety about the coronavirus is leading to sleepless nights for some people – and that can result in even more health problems.

Studies have shown that a lack of sleep weakens the immune system, the last thing anyone needs when a potentially deadly virus is making the rounds.

The question many bleary-eyed people face is how they can remedy their insomnia without resorting to medication, anything else that they have to take orally or a significant lifestyle change. One answer: stretches done on the bed that relax the body and mind, allowing them to drift into slumber and be better prepared for the next day – and keep that immune system humming as well, Larry Piller, a certified massage practitioner and author of “Stretching Your Way: A Unique and Leisurely Muscle Stretching System,” said.

“I consider these the crown jewels of stretches for sleep because everyone who tries them falls asleep,” Piller said. “Just by knowing that these stretches are waiting for you anytime you want them, day or night, it will give you a feeling of tranquility as opposed to a night of anxiousness. Stretching has many benefits, and one of those is that it can help you wind down and ease the tension at the end of the day.”

So, for those struggling to rid themselves of their coronavirus worries, Piller offered a few examples of what he calls “superstar stretches for sleeping.”

Stretch 1

While lying on your back, extend your shoulder out as is comfortable and lift your hand up as though you are trying to stop traffic. Then turn your arm and your hand backward, letting your little finger be your guide. Let your little finger land where roughly the No. 7 would be on a clock. Just extend your shoulder out as is comfortable and bring your fingers back as is comfortable.

Stretch 2

While lying on your back on the bed, put your arm in a position as if showing your muscle to someone. Just extend your elbow out to the side as is comfortable for a tricep stretch. From that position, open your hand up all the way, extend your elbow to the side as is comfortable while bringing your thumb down toward you as is comfortable.

Stretch 3

While you lie on your back, just extend your shoulder and arm out as is comfortable, Piller said.

Stretch 4

While you lie on your back, bring your toes and the inner side of your foot inward to get a stretch on the side of the foot. These stretches for the side of your feet can be done lying on your side as well, as long as you have room to bring your foot or feet down or inward. You also can use a pillow between your legs to raise your foot so you can bring your foot or feet down or hang your feet over the edge.

“This by itself, or in combination with other stretches, has a high chance to put you to sleep like a little baby,” Piller said.

A recent article in Psychology Today explored how a good night’s sleep is necessary for a person’s immune system to run as efficiently as possible. A good, healthy immune system is one of the major things that may reduce the risk of the coronavirus. That motivation makes it extremely important that people find simple and easy ways to relax at night, rather than lie staring at the ceiling as brooding fears about the coronavirus swirl around in their minds, Piller said.

“Life can be a job in itself, especially right now with all the concerns about the coronavirus,” Piller said. “Most people do not want all the difficulties that every insomnia treatment is riddled with. They don’t want to do all kinds of lifestyle changes that don’t offer solutions or guarantees, and that have minimal results at best. These superstar stretches for sleeping are the world’s easiest and safest. For me, muscle stretching is magic. You get total relief just knowing this effortless system is waiting for you at bedtime.”

Larry Piller, a certified massage practitioner, is author of “Stretching Your Way: A Unique & Leisurely Muscle Stretching System,” which BookAuthority named as one of the best new stretching books to read in 2020, one of the best stretching e-books for 2020 and one of the “Best Stretching Books of All Time.” Piller became interested in stretching more than 25 years ago when he was plagued with lower back spasms from tightening muscles that over time became debilitating. He sought advice from various experts on stretching. When nothing worked, he experimented with stretching on his own and came up with his own system. For more information, visit https://www.larrypiller.com.