From the desk of Kristen Reynolds, DPT, PMA®-CPT...
The benefits of sufficient sleep, especially during the stressful holiday season, is not news to anyone. However, regularly getting 6-8 hours of solid rest is easier said than done when balancing modern day work, home, and social obligations. Experts often advise individuals to establish a bedtime ritual. As 2012 approaches, try incorporating an alternative practice into your evening regimen...
Appalachian State University recently published a study that revealed a positive correlation between practicing Pilates and improved quality sleep. Study participants who performed Pilates Mat twice weekly for 75 minutes or three times a week for 50 minutes, over a 15 week period, were less likely to experience disturbed sleep. Karen Caldwell, Ph.D., the lead researcher of the study, states that these improvements while you are snoozing may be linked to decreased stress and tension as a result of increased body awareness.
The man behind the Method, Joseph Pilates, proclaimed that “The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning is gaining the mastery of your mind over the complete control over your body.” He believed that in order to acquire Whole Body Health, a guiding principle of Pilates, one must engage in proper exercise, diet, and sleep. Pilates’ Return to Life Through Contrology is his famous publication that details his philosophies of “whole body health” and that it cannot be acquired without a balance of proper exercise, diet, work, play, sunshine, relaxation and, of course, sleep. The following excerpt conveys his thoughts on shut eye:
“Now let us consider the important question of good sleep at night. A quiet, cool, well-ventilated room is best. Do not use a soft mattress. "Firm but not soft" is a good rule to follow. Use the lightest possible bed covering consistent with warmth. Do not use large bulky pillows (or as some do, two stacked pillows)--better still, use none at all. Most important in the matter of enjoying good recuperative sleep are quiet, darkness, fresh air, and mental calm! Nervousness is usually aggravated by a lack of proper exercise, especially in the case of one with a troubled mind. The best alleviative for this condition is exercise. So if your sleep is disturbed, rise immediately and perform your exercises. It is far better to be tired from physical exertion than to be fatigued by the "poisons" generated by nervousness while lying awake. Particularly beneficial in this regard are the spinal "rolling" and "unrolling" massage exercises which relax the nerves and induce sound, restful sleep.”
Would you believe he also invented and patented what he found to be the most ergonomic bed?!? Check it out at http://geoffjones.com/pilates-bed/ and let me know your thoughts.
In the meantime, roll out your mat every evening and spend 15 minutes practicing these Pilates exercises that “roll” the spine. They are gentle and controlled movements, but always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.
- Head Nod
- Articulation Bridge (or Pelvic Lift)
- Roll Up
- Spine Stretch
- Rolling Like a Ball
- Standing Roll Down
Looking to pamper yourself with a beauty sleep treat, too? Check out the Peace & Quiet t spheres® at OMBE’s Eco Beauty Bar. The are aromatherapy balls are infused with lavender to reduce headache, calm nerves, and alleviate stress all in the name of naturally inducing sleep. Roll away!
Kristen Reynolds earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science from James Madison University in 2006 and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the MGH Institute of Health Professions in 2009.
While practicing in orthopedics and sports medicine, a mentor introduced her to the Pilates Method and she has since pursued comprehensive certification to compliment her clinical interests. She is certified by the Pilates Method Alliance, the only professional certification in the field, as well as an active member of American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and APTA Sports Physical Therapy Section.
Always interested in sports and fitness, she is a former dancer, YMCA and Junior Olympic gymnast, coach, and ACE personal trainer. Integrating the Pilates principles and repertoire into her physical therapy practice has produced successful rehabilitation outcomes for a wide variety of patients, including adolescents, elite athletes and dancers, and individuals with chronic orthopedic conditions. Kristen utilizes this alternative therapeutic approach to improve muscle performance and joint mobility, correct posture and alignment, enhance body awareness, and create an evenly conditioned body that is more resilient to extremity and spinal injury. She greatly enjoys designing programs to target personal goals, educating clients to incorporate Pilates into their daily activities, and teaching small group Ballet Barre and Mat classes.