Sleep is universal. It is an important aspect of life as it restores and renews. Sleep is a key component in optimal health and disease prevention. As humans we spend one third of our lives asleep. Without sleep, organs deteriorate at a rapid pace, and the mind loses its acuity. Many cultures recognized the significance of sleep. For instance, the ancient Greeks believed that sleep was a short-term separation of vital organs from the rest of the body.
Many people, unfortunately, struggle to achieve a truly restful sleep. The recommendation for adults is 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night. According to traditional Chinese medicine, going to bed at 10:30 pm is best as the liver Qi resets at 11:00 pm. Ayurvedic principles support the traditional Chinese medicine time line as nighttime (10:00 pm until 2:00 am) has the pitta (fire) dosha active. The pitta dosha is used at nighttime for the repair and transformation of cells.
Without proper sleep, cellular repair is unable to fully occur. Sleep deprivation has been linked to weight gain and disease, specifically cancer and heart disease. Two hormones are affected greatly when sleep cycles are disrupted. Ghrelin is the hormone that says when to eat, and with sleep-deprivation, there is more ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that says when to stop eating, and with sleep deprivation, there is less leptin. Creating an optimal sleeping environment is vital to achieve a good night’s rest.
Common tips to improve sleep:
- Environment: Cool room, quiet, well ventilated, and dark. If you place your hand twelve inches in front of your face and you can clearly see it, then the room is not dark enough.
- Quiet the mind through meditation and exercise
- Diaphragmatic breathing
- Joseph Pilates specifically suggests spinal rolling exercises for better and deeper sleep
- Keep a regular schedule/routine
- Be mindful of what goes into your body in relation to food and drink
- Pilates can help improve sleep quality. A study at Appalachian State University in North Carolina revealed that after participants took a Pilates class for a semester, sleep quality and mood improved (Caldwell K et al. Developing Mindfulness in College Students through Movement Based Courses: Effects on Self-Regulatory Self-Efficacy, Mood, Stress, and Sleep Quality. J Am Coll Health. 2010; 58(5): 433–442. doi:10.1080/07448480903540481)
- Greek Philosophy on Sleep (2009, August 25) Retrieved September 16, 2014, from http://www.academon.com/term-paper/greek-philosophy-on-sleep-116069/
- Pilates J. Return to Life through Contrology.
Karyn Staples PT, PhD, OCS, PMA-CPT®
“I am a wife, mother (2 children), physical therapist, Pilates instructor, business owner, researcher, and mentor. I live in Peachtree City, GA and am the local operator of ProHealth Physical Therapy and Pilates Studio (established June 2005). I graduated from the University of Evansville in May 1998 with my Master’s Degree and Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy. I attended my first Pilates continuing education course in June 1998 and fell in love with the work for my own body. I was a gymnast as a child and the movement made sense to me. In June 2002 I began the doctoral program at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (Provo, UT) with the focus area of Orthopedics and Sports Science. The program provided access to wonderful teachers, mentors, and classmates from all over the USA. Through all of my doctoral work, I had continued my personal Pilates practice and decided to pursue a comprehensive teacher training program (the completion of the program counted towards my required practicuum). I was drawn to Polestar Pilates for the rehabilitation background and how the program would enhance my physical therapy practice. I completed the program in May 2005 and completed the Advanced Teacher Training coursework in January 2011.”
This is part of a 12-week series about Modern Healthcare. To see previous posts, click here.