A regular Pilates practice creates changes in many facets of life – improved fitness and mobility, and decreased pain and stress. Many people rave about the benefits of Pilates affecting them all day – from sitting at work to exercising later. But how many of us think about Pilates before we go to sleep? Poor sleep habits can greatly contribute to pain and tension patterns. Here are some tips for before, during, and after sleeping, to help you apply your Pilates knowledge to a very important part of your day!
Before you go to bed –
- Roll out. You know how we often roll out one foot, or one hip, and then PAUSE to feel the difference? At night before you go to bed CHECK IN with your body and feel for the places that have accumulated tension throughout the day. The more regular you are in your release work practice, the easier it will be to identify your highest priority tension spots and address them before you go to sleep. Remember, sleeping with accumulated tension is like leaving the lights on when you aren’t home. It’s inefficient, and when wake up you are hit with the bill.
- Make sure you are well hydrated! Waking up because you have to pee is way better than waking up stiff and sore. Your body’s self-healing mechanisms cannot function without proper hydration. If you struggle with this area, try using an app on your phone to track your water intake, or a smart water bottle.
- Take a break from the screen! If you are rolling out before bed, mission accomplished. Otherwise consider spending time with your family or pets, reading a good book, or CALLING (not texting) a friend. Blue light emitted from screens interferes with our bodies ability to rest and wind down.
While sleeping –
- How many of us prop ourselves or our clients in class, prop our chair where we sit, only to lay in bed without the structural support we need? All of your important lessons about rotation and neutral spine apply here. Belly sleeping can be tempting, but keeps the spine in a rotated and extended position all night. Do whatever it takes to break this habit. I personally cannot sleep on my back, but if that works for you, great. Try sleeping on your back or your side. If you sleep on your side, it may be helpful to prop between your knees and your elbows. Also, make sure that your pillow is the right height for your sleep position. I actually use a pillow specifically for side sleepers, which is a little thicker than a pillow for back sleepers.
- If you wake up and you’ve moved, reposition.
- If you are constantly sleeping so poorly that you toss and turn and wake up in sub-optimal positions, consider seeking advice from a naturopathic doctor.
In the morning
- Pandiculation – This is the wonderful word for natural, diagonal stretching that our bodies prompt us towards when we wake. Don’t ignore the signal. Let your body move when you wake up. (See Jen’s video here – http://fusionpilatesedu.com/the-pilates-show-mondays-pandiculation/)
- Water before coffee.
- Make your bed! This may seem silly, but if you make your bed, you will be more inclined to prop yourself well at night and spend time lying in bed reading or talking instead of hunching over a computer.