pilates and sleep

When Will I Ever Get To Sleep?

We’ve all been there. A bad night’s sleep. But what if it becomes more than a one-off experience? It’s amazing to think that up to 35% of people suffer from brief episodes of insomnia and up to 10% have chronic insomnia (Sleep Education). These are huge numbers. A recent article in The Week magazine quoted a Harvard Medical School professor as saying insomnia is ‘an under-appreciated problem’ and Arianna Huffington’s bestselling book talks of a ‘global sleep crisis’.

If you’ve ever suffered yourself with insomnia or other sleep-related issues, you will know the damaging and frustrating effects it can have on your mind and body. Irritability, daytime tiredness, headaches, food cravings and lack of concentration are just some of the short-term effects. Having worked with clients over a number of years at the studio, I knew only too well how common sleep problems are especially as we get older. But the very encouraging thing I also heard from clients was that sleep seemed to be greatly improved after our specialist Pilates sessions.

A little over a year ago, I too started to have some sleep issues. I was running a busy studio and have a hectic family life. The number one cause of sleep problems is stress. Looking back at the time of my sleep problem, I was experiencing a stressful time myself and was likely the trigger to my own sleep issues. I tried everything on the market as a cure – take a look at the picture below. It took me a while to gather all these items together for this photo – I have quite a collection!

In no particular order, I tried:

1) Reading all the books I could on sleep
2) Lavender spray for my pillow
3) Magnesium spray for my body
4) Camomile tea
5) Sleep balm to rub into your pulse points
6) Lavender oil which goes inside a special infuser
7) Rescue Remedy to drop onto my tongue
8) A year’s subscription to the app HeadSpace.
9) A bar of dark chocolate (yes, I am pretty sure I read somewhere that this can help sleep. I probably consumed more than one bar over a year!)
10) Visit to the doctor who tried to give me sleeping pills, which I kindly declined.

These were all lovely things to try (apart from the sleeping pills) and they smelt lovely, tasted lovely and really helped me understand the causes of the issue that so many of us have. In hindsight, it was all part of my research into sleep. At the time, I was simply trying to solve my own personal issue. But, for me these items were never quite enough to solve it fully. I researched more, talked to more people and remembered what my clients had been telling me all along. Sleep was easier after a particular type of Pilates session. Was this my answer?

This really inspired me. Pilates was something I definitely knew something about – how could I work with this knowledge I’d built up since 2008 and my own sleep research to create a way to reduce my stress levels and relax me enough to allow me to sleep? And, could I help others too who may be suffering? In that moment, I knew I had the answers and set about creating a method that would involve Pilates-based movements but from a sleep perspective. The result was my very first online course called Unwind and Sleep Well with Pilates. I’m super excited at the prospect of helping others with insomnia and other sleep-related issues, and although it’s a little weird for me hearing my own voice teaching me sleep focused movements and guided meditations, I’ve had clients enthused with the results. So I guess, we don’t always have to take a straight line to solve our problems. Out of my problem, came my passion to educate and help others.

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