In the weeks after the birth of their first child, many women struggle with poor sleep. New research suggests that Pilates practice may improve subjective sleep quality for women during this important period.
Researchers conducted a randomized clinical trial of 80 postpartum women, who had just been pregnant for the first time, to determine whether a Pilates program would provide relief. The women were equally split into a Pilates group and a control group. The Pilates group started its exercise program 72 hours after giving birth and did 30 minutes of home practice 5 days per week for 8 weeks. Investigators collected data using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index before the intervention, after 4 weeks and after 8 weeks.
Data analysis showed that the Pilates practitioners experienced significant improvements in subjective sleep quality, sleep latency (the time it took to fall asleep) and daytime dysfunction. No differences were found in sleep duration, sleep efficiency or sleep disturbance. Researchers concluded that the Pilates program improved sleep quality for these postpartum women.
The study appeared in the Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (2014; 18 , 190–99).