In bed with Pilates by Sabine Fischer

Are you tossing and turning at night? Do you find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep? Do you wake up in the morning feeling like you haven't slept at all?

In this article I review what Joseph Pilates, inventor of the widely known Pilates exercise technique, thought about sleep and his advice for a restful night.

Joseph Pilates firmly believed that the mind and body are connected and they both need to develop together in order to achieve the best results in good health. He saw himself as an educator and believed in prevention rather than 'cure'.

Joe Pilates had a strong opinion about almost every part of our daily life. He even showed people how to take a shower ...

With his holistic approach to exercise he came up with some design ideas for chairs and beds "to ensure correct posture and to rest the body perfectly".

His "V"-shaped bed is one of Joe Pilates' bed inventions mainly designed for pregnant women, children and asthma sufferers. He claims it to be the perfect bed for hospitals.

Joseph Pilates "V" shaped bed was patented in September 1932 with the U.S. Patent Office

Mr. Pilates encourages a curled-up sleeping position rather than stretched out; and blames parent s who "inflicted needless cruelty upon their offspring" by believing that their children need "to stretch out their little legs while sleeping." In his opinion sleeping in the "kitten coil" position prevents from "constipation, weak kidneys and other ailments".

Here are some of Joseph Pilates' practical tips for a good night sleep:

  • "A quiet, cool, well-ventilated room is best"
  • Use a "firm but not soft mattress"
  • "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"
  • And most importantly "mental calm" - which can be achieved through regular physical exercise

And if you still can't sleep, Joe recommends to get up and exercise! He says:" It's far better to be tired from physical exercise than to be fatigued by the 'poisons' generated by nervousness while lying awake."

Rolling and unrolling exercises of the spine offer the best benefits to calm the mind and body. Two simple Pilates exercises to induce sound and restful sleep are:

Rolling Spine down:

Rolling Down Spine

The Shoulder Bridge:

Shoulder Bridge

Do a few repetitions of each exercise just before going to bed and hopefully soon after you fall into a deep and untroubled sleep. Good night!

Source: Return to Life Through Contrology by Joseph Pilates, Your Health by Joseph Pilates

Sabine Fischer is a Pilates expert based in Hampstead, London

Please visit Sabine's website to find more information