Midnight MATness

Midnight MATnessJoe Pilates was never at a loss for words with regard to the benefits and efficacy of his exercises.

Generally I do not suffer from insomnia, but occasionally due to impending travel, a big day ahead of me or in this case – a thought-provoking read before bedtime – it can take me a while to actually fall asleep.

My thoughts wander (read this as ‘obsess') and maybe I'm too warm. Sometimes I've eaten irregularly, or chosen foods that disrupt my digestion. Usually I view it as counterproductive to get up and out of bed, despite being totally awake and lying there. Surely staying awake is not the answer.

Or is it?

(from Return to Life through Contrology by Joseph H. Pilates)

Most important in the matter of enjoying good recuperative sleep are quiet, darkness, fresh air, and mental calm.

Okay, ‘mental calm' seems to be the component I lack at the moment.

Nervousness is usually aggravated by a lack of proper exercise, especially in the case of one with a troubled mind.

Yes, my mind, ‘troubled', will not turn off.

The best alleviative for this condition is exercise. So if your sleep is disturbed, rise immediately and perform your exercises.

Hmmm…If you can't sleep, “rise immediately” and Open Leg Rock yourself to dreamland. The exercises will act as a sleep aid, despite their vigorousness, yes?

Yes. This is my inclination…but I have never before put it to the test.

What would be more fitting, I ask you, than a noble experiment in the midst of the MATness?

Rising (immediately) from my bed, I decide to give it a go…

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


Sheesh, I'd better get moving…

Particularly beneficial in this regard are the spinal “rolling” and “unrolling” massage exercises which relax the nerves and induce sound, restful sleep.

Super! Rolling exercises are my favorites as well.

I must mention this moment as Perk Numero Uno of having a home Pilates studio.

Out of bed and onto my proper mat – pretty comfy so far and still lying down. Since we're in the middle of the night I keep the lights off with just the light from outside – moonlight I guess – at the window. Not that Joe (husband) would be too shocked should he awaken to find me exercising in the wee hours…in the dark…but still it feels exhilarating and eccentric. Which pleases me.

And wouldn't you know it, there in the darkness, I truly did the best Hundred ever. I felt my legs super scooped into my stomach.

You'll just have to trust me on this one, I cannot produce a witness.

I decided on a 15 minute version of the Mat, so as not to be up too late I suppose. Just thorough enough. And lately I'm not happy if I don't do the Side Kicks…who AM I?

Post MMATness

My breathing which had elevated during the exercises, slowly started to ease. Once again in my bed each full breath brought more relaxation and quiet to my mind. My head felt lighter, internally and on the pillow. My brain loosened and silenced, mercifully.

Why don't I do this every night?

My body and back felt fantastic. Even my digestive system had sorted itself out. I was comfortable. In my own skin, as well as under my duvet. And then it seemed to be morning – as I shortly fell asleep.

OMG this stuff WORKS!

Observe, too, how cats sleep – utterly relaxed whether they happen to be lying on their back, side or belly. Contrology exercises emphasize the need for this constant stretching and relaxing.

“C'mon, be a cat. You cannot do it right or wrong. You're either a cat or you're not.
No two cats are the same, so you're not learning a movement, you're a cat.” 

Kathleen Stanford Grant

Please share any and all March MATness midnight capers. I must be advised…

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  1. Thanks for the full and entertaining report. I’ve never tested out Joe’s assertion myself, I’ll keep it in mind for when insomnia strikes. Although a fortunate side effect of extended sleep deprivation is not having insomnia. 🙂

    • Yes, I had never tested it before – and since we are in the thrall of the MM festivities – I thought there could not possibly be a better time for an experiment 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and keep me posted if you get a chance to check it out, but hopefully you won’t need to -LOL

  2. Thanks Andrea, for your always entertaining & informative posts! I love this one, because I USED to exercise at night (not in the middle of the night, mind you) because I’ve always been more of a night person. Then somewhere along the line, years ago I read one shouldn’t do this because raising your body temperature and heart rate before bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep. Disregarding my own personal experiences of it not really being a problem for me, I listened and started trying find other times in my busy daytime schedule to squeeze in my workouts. As usual, Joe makes some great points here, and thanks to your positive results, I plan to return to evening mat workouts whenever I feel like it. 🙂

    • Good for you Peggy! Thank you for sharing this story with me – I thought similarly, that the workout might be too invigorating to induce sleep – unlike my book that I literally will fall asleep on top of – but yay! for your evening mat workouts 🙂 Thank you for reading and for your kind words about the blog, as well. Have a wonderful Pilates day!

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