"Pull up, pull in & breathe"

How Pilates can help with Sleep Deprivation

Published on: 09/05/18

Are you Sleep Deprived?!

Having recently travelled East to Thailand then West to America in quick succession I know only too well how it feels to be sleep deprived. I’ve never felt jetlag quite like it, fortunately my body has finally returned to UK time but it took almost two weeks to recover.

So what is sleep deprivation? It is when an individual gets less sleep than required to stay awake and alert. Sleep deprivation can have important consequences to your health often leading to varying symptoms that can disrupt your life and well-being.

Common symptoms and side effects include:


The most obvious symptom is feeling sleepy which may cause you to feel drowsy with a strong desire to fall asleep during the day. The ongoing effects of sleepiness can lead to fatigue.

Mood Changes

A lack of sleep can leave you feeling irritable and short-tempered. These mood changes may result in more serious problems such as anxiety and depression.

Lack of Concentration

Studies have shown that chronic sleep restriction leads to increased shortfalls in our performance. This can decrease your reaction time, reduce alertness and cause accidents.

Memory Problems

Sleep has important effects on our ability to think and process memories. Therefore, when sleep deprived the cognitive abilities can be affected negatively. You may find that you are more disorganised and your judgement is compromised; choices made that do not reflect your usual ‘common sense’

The most common symptom of sleep deprivation is issues with concentration and paying attention followed closely by impaired short-term memory.


Some common psychiatric symptoms of sleep deprivation can include disorientation, hallucinations and paranoia. Fortunately, these symptoms are quickly alleviated by adequate rest.


Aside from the sense of fatigue, sleep deprivation may lead to other physical signs of general discomfort such as aches and pains in your body.

Disrupted Sleep Cycle

The natural flow of the sleep cycle will be disrupted by sleep deprivation. Sleep occurs in two basic stages throughout the night; rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and non rapid eye movement sleep (NREM). Arousal can be a shift from REM sleep to NREM sleep or from NREM sleep to being awake.

Other signs of sleep deprivation

Yawning, fuzzy head, forgetfulness, increased appetite and reduced sex drive.

What is making you sleep deprived?

  • Personal life choices, most commonly choosing to go to bed late
  • Over stimulated, using tablets/phones/other devises and watch TV late in the evening
  • Work stresses including workload and shift schedules
  • Illnesses such as having a cough or cold
  • Sleep disorders, snoring, sleep apnoea and periodic limb movement disorder
  • Medication, some medication may side effects causing insomnia
  • Family, looking after babies/toddlers or family worries
  • Regular travelers, travelling through different time zones often creates the feeling of jetlag
  • Financial worries and other things playing on your mind

Adults should aim to get 8 hours sleep every night.

Tips on how to improve your sleep

  1. Go to bed earlier each night
  2. Avoid drinking alcohol, caffeine or smoking before bed
  3. Improve your sleeping environment i.e. dark room, soundproofed (eye plus are great), comfortable mattress etc
  4. Remove distractions in the bedroom such as TV, computer and other electronic devices
  5. Use relaxing techniques; meditation, practice mindfulness to help fall asleep quickly
  6. Increase your daily activities, such as exercising especially if you have a sedentary job. Yoga and Pilates are great methods to both help relax the mind & body whilst training in a non-impact way. Others find walking and running helpful – being out in the fresh air

Advice from Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates says the most important element of better and deeper sleep is mental calm. A troubled nervous system can be alleviated with exercise. If you are struggling to sleep, Joseph Pilates advises you to ‘get up & exercise’ for a better and deeper sleep. The exercises should include spinal rolling; the rolling and unrolling exercises massages the spine, relax the nerves, help cleanse the body and restore natural flexibility in the spine.

“It is better to be tired from physical exertion than to be fatigued by the poisons generated by nervousness generated by lying awake” quote by J. Pilates.

Pilates Exercises for Better Sleep

A few exercises for you to practice before getting into bed if you have trouble sleeping:

Pilates Preparation & Breathing:

Shoulder Bridge:

Standing Roll Down:

To read about the other Benefits of Pilates click here

Find a Pilates class to improve your sleep

PATS PILATES have a variety of classes to suit your needs, speak to us today and we’d be happy to advise you on the best options for you. Or take a look at our full range of Pilates classes.

Wishing you a good nights’ sleep!

If you have any concerns it is advisable to speak to your G.P. for assistance on insomnia.

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