Fact or Myth: Are You Taller in the Morning?

This is a FACT.

While it’s unlikely you’ve ever looked at yourself in the mirror and thought, “Why am I taller in the morning?” you may have heard the rumors circulating. Can you really gain up to half an inch of height in the am hours? Yes indeed! The restorative benefits of sleep work almost as well on height as platform shoes.

While You Sleep…

The spine is made up of 33 overlapping vertebrae separated by intervertebral discs made of cartilage. These discs allow for movement, flexibility, extension, and rotation in the spine. When you sleep, your spine is no longer subjected to the pressures of gravity, and your body is able to replenish lost fluids between your intervertebral discs, which stretch and relax. The excess fluid provides up to a half inch more of height upon waking.  This same force is at work when astronauts travel to outer space. According to Nasa research, astronauts gain up to two inches in height once they are freed from the gravitational pressure of Earth. Unfortunately, we don’t live on the moon, and the force of the earth’s gravity compresses our spines throughout the day, draining that extra fluid and shrinking height that extra half-inch.

How to Keep that Extra Height During the Day

Forget hanging from pull-up bars and doorframes. The way to gain back that half-inch of height is to implement a regular yoga or Pilates practice (two to three times per week), both of which improve your posture, adding up to an inch of height! If you are new to these core-building exercise programs, start with the following exercises to increase height.

Mountain PoseMountain Pose: There’s nothing fancy here; just some firm footing and concentration. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Root your feet, toes and all, on the ground. Face your palms out, and roll your shoulders back and down. Notice the expansion you feel in the neck and spine as your roll your shoulders back and away from your ears. Keep your chin tucked down, while stretching the crown of your head up…almost as though it were attached to a string hanging from the ceiling. Stand tall for one minute.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)Down Dog Pose: This classic yoga pose strengthens your spine and improves your posture by drawing your shoulders back. Start on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart in front of you. Press back, lifting your buttocks in the air, straightening your legs, and stretching your arms long. Push your heels into the floor and keep your palms pressing flat onto your exercise mat.

forward bendForward Bend: Forward bend is practiced in both Pilates and yoga. Position your feet hip-width apart (your hips are probably closer together than you think they are). Lift your arms above your head, reaching tall to the ceiling. Overlap your hands and bend at the hips, keeping your spine long. Touch the floor with your hands (or rest your hands on your shins if you cannot reach the floor), while keeping your spine as long and straight as possible. Practicing this simple, functional movement daily will elongate your spine, improve your posture, and help you walk tall and proud at anytime during the day!