You wake up in the morning, body stiff and eyes half shut, wondering if you’ll ever wake up in time for work. Until you have that first morning stretch, where you take in a huge yawn and reach all of your limbs outward as much as possible. Suddenly, you’re more awake, but why?
As it turns out, that yawning and stretching motion has a name—pandiculating—and it does, in fact, signal your body to wake up.
Hank Green, host of the popular SciShow on YouTube, explains why pandiculating feels so good. According to Green, it’s a way to wake your muscles up after a long night at rest. After all, you’ve probably been in the same position for quite some time when your alarm goes off.
When you stretch, your muscles loosen up and come back into alignment. The action sends a signal to your brain that it’s time to wake up. That’s why you likely do feel more awake once you’ve taken that first big stretch.
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The stretch also brings blood flow back to your arms and legs, getting your circulation going again and making you more flexible. Green describes it as a bodily reboot. Plus, stretching can relieve tension and stress getting you off on the right foot first thing in the morning.
If you feel kind of sluggish in the morning, working in a good stretch before heading to the coffee maker just might help.