Why sleep is so crucial for a balanced life
In my recent blog posts I’ve focused on definitions and descriptions of Pilates.
I think you know that I love Pilates – it relaxes, it stretches, it destresses, it tones. It’s just amazing.
In this blog, however, I’m going to focus on one of the other areas of life that is absolutely crucial for a balanced existence – sleep.
There will have been a time in all our lives when sleep has been disturbed – whether that is down to illness, stress, having babies, grief – and we all know how debilitating it is.
We lose all our energy, our focus, our concentration. Quite honestly, we feel unbalanced and out of sorts.
Why is sleep so important?
Sleep is the time when our brain and our body grow and repair themselves and it’s an essential time to heal, reduce stress and release hormones to help keep us healthy.
When our sleep cycle is disturbed our health becomes unbalanced, our mental health suffers, we’re more likely to injure ourselves and our brains work less effectively which might lead to making errors during the day.
It’s well known that sleep can help in areas such as:
Productivity and concentration
Reducing anxiety and depression
Maintaining a healthy immune system
Emotions and social interaction
Sleep and modern technology
We used to rely on natural patterns such as sunrise and sunset to allow our bodies to regulate themselves. All that has changed now because modern day luxuries like light bulbs and smart technologies have altered the general pattern of our days.
We are now bombarded with stimulation all day, every day and switching off for sleep can be very difficult.
Here are some of the ways I achieve a peaceful and beneficial night’s sleep, every night:
Allow yourself at least an hour before bed to relax, wind down and leave the stresses of the day behind you
Declutter your bedroom. Make it as calm and relaxing as possible and don’t bring your smart phone or devices to bed
Do regular physical exercise. Meditation and relaxation techniques can also help with better sleep
Try not to drink caffeine or alcohol in the hours running up to your normal bedtime
Find a routine that suits you and stick to it – go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
Avoid eating big meals too late in the day
Try to ensure you’ve spent some time in the fresh air
If you’re worried about something, write it down to clear your mind before bed
Pilates and sleep
Like most forms of exercise, Pilates can wake you up and make you more alert. So why would Pilates be a good thing to do when you need to sleep?
Joseph Pilates, the founder of the Pilates method, says that the best state for good sleep is mental calm. Regular exercise is often prescribed as a good way to relax and unwind for good sleep but Joseph Pilates goes a step further; he says that if you’re struggling to sleep, get up and do some exercise.
He says: "It is better to be tired from physical exertion than to be fatigued by the poisons generated by nervousness while lying awake."
If you’re familiar with Pilates, you’ll know about spinal rolling exercises and how they stretch, massage and cleanse the spine for a more relaxed body – why not try some spinal exercises next time you’re struggling to sleep and see how they restore some balance.
What are your top tips for getting the best night’s sleep? Please share them with us, we’d love to know.
With much love and great sleep,
Credit photo : jplenio on Pixabay