5 Ways To Sleep Better (and Make It To Your Morning Class Awake and On Time)


Dear Readers:

If you have ever found yourself hitting the snooze button several times in a row only to finally pull yourself out of bed and attempt to gather up enough motivation to get your booty into your barre class, you know the importance of getting a solid night’s sleep. While there are some who can place their heads to their pillows and drift away without much effort, many others struggle with sleep issues. Bottom line: on a scale from 1-insomnia, most of us are tossing and turning in the middle. If you’re a part of our sometimes sleep-deprived pack, here are five ways to sleep better (and have a better morning workout, hint hint).

Put Your Electronics To Bed. Late night Instagramming (is that a word?) and texting might be loads of fun, but they can wreak havoc on your sleeping patterns. Numerous studies have shown the blue light emitted by electronics inhibits the production of melatonin which is needed to become sleepy.

Try This: Say goodnight to your iPhone, TV and computer an hour before bed. Take a hot bath or shower and crawl into bed and write in a diary or read a good book (as in a real book, or a magazine if you rely on an e-reader) before bed.

Monitor Your Caffeine Intake (and Not Just Coffee). Most of us know not to down a cup of caffeinated tea or coffee before bed, but how many times have you had a bit of chocolate or enjoyed a sip of soda only to lay wide awake in bed?  Caffeine, even in small doses, is a stimulant, so it’s best to enjoy it no less than four hours before bedtime.

Try This: Enjoy your mid-afternoon coffee, but try not to enjoy it past 1:00PM.  Caffeine has a half-life of 3-5 hours (the time it takes for ½ of the drug to be out of your system) and can stay in the body up to 18 hours.  See why that 3:00PM cup may not be such a great idea?

Watch Your Wine-Down’s. Titles aside, all alcohol impairs your sleep by reducing your REM which is why those who drink often wake up seriously groggy, even without being hungover.

Try This: Cut yourself off by 7:00PM, if possible.  Enjoy a glass of red or white with your dinner and then move onto seltzer.

Be Grateful For Winter: Well, cooler temps aren’t all bad. As it turns out, people tend to sleep better in cooler weather.

Try this: If possible keep your home in the 16-22 Celsius range as it is noted as the most beneficial for a good night’s sleep.

Schedule a Morning Workout: Ah, and we come full circle.  Studies have shown that physical activity too late in the evening can stimulate the body, making it harder to sleep.

Try This: Well, this seems obvious, but how about we do everything in the post, and if we notice a difference, we make a morning class a priority?

What is your best “sleep better” tip?  

Much Love,


The Detox Blog: Can I Go 30 Days Without Alcohol? No. 29? Maybe.

Johanna May Pilates, JMP, Pilates Sydney, Best Pilates Studio, Health and Fitness, Yoga and Pilates,  Johanna May Irwin, Flowers, Bath and flowers,

So, I have decided to do the impossible, folks. I have decided to make an attempt to stop drinking for an entire month.  As in thirty days.  As in 730.484 hours. As in no alcohol.  Since I feel a public proclamation will aid in my success in this venture, I have decided to blog about my journey. Please find the entries for week one below (and check in every Tuesday to read about my progress).



Day #1

My family and I celebrated early Christmas and my partner had a work function which meant my weekend went something like this: Roast Pork, potatoes, Christmas ham, wine, champagne, more wine, bread and more wine. My body feels. well, truly dusty. It’s only November, and well, silly season is truly upon us. With the endless Christmas parties and end-of-the-year celebrations, its easy to let things creep up on you. I have never taken an extended break from alcohol but I am feeling determined.  My partners family is coming over for dinner tonight. This should get interesting.

Day #3

Hump Day nearly killed me. After one hell of a day, I would have loved (loved) a glass of wine. Instead, I went to sleep at 9PM. Fortunately, a nice glass of wine and sleep are pretty much on the same desirable level for me.


Day #5

I have to say, I am feeling pretty fresh over here (if I do say so myself).  Again, I enjoyed lots of sleep and and didn’t have to teach until 9AM which is quite a late start for me. I woke up at 5:30AM still feeling well-rested.  I am feeling pretty confident. Later Update:  It all happened so fast, I swear. I met a friend at a cocktail bar before a movie on a very hot day and well, I failed. So many bad choices. I have to say that I did love that ice cold glass of riesling. Let’s see how the weekend goes…

Day #6 & 7

Ah (AKA Augh), my first booze-free weekend in quite some time. It’s not easy, but I’ve got an early morning Booty Barre class booked for 8am Sunday morning’s for the next month. Hopefully, that will steer me away from trouble.   We shall see…


Have you ever done a month-long detox? Could you ever do one?



Intimidated By Pilates? Three Things To Know


You Think: The equipment Looks Like Medieval Torture Devices, Or a Scene Out of Fifty Shades of Gray.

OK, I will admit that if you have never seen the equipment before, it can be intimidating. But, as with anything, knowledge is power. Once you get a solid overview and understanding of the mechanics behind each design (which a good instructor will share with you) you will see that the equipment is not there to bring harm (or kink), but there to support and challenge your body. You will then extend and bend into places you didn’t think you could go.

You Think: Why Does My Teacher Keep Poking and Prodding Me?

Many moons ago, I had a client who was an old golfing friend of my dad’s. Dad came into the studio to have a session, only to see me touching his mate Rodger’s arse. The horrified look on his face will forever be etched into my mind.  The bottom line:Your instructor will often use hands on cues to get the muscles activating at the right time. As it can be quite hard to juggling all the mental cues in your head, your instructor’s hand are there to help guide the way.

You Think: It Is Quite Personal.

Even before you get moving, the initial questionnaire is pretty full-on. Asking about digestive issues, current exercise routine (note: most people lie in this section) and birthing processes.  I recently had a client’s husband come in for his assessment the other day. He was very curious about the women’s-only section. He was specifically interested in a question relating to incontinence,  which he did not understand. While it might be difficult to share certain items, the more open and honest you are, the more your instructor will know about you and your body —and the the more you are going to benefit from your sessions. 
Were you intimidated in your initial sessions? If so, share your best advice for newbies below!

Feeling Bloated? Pilates Can Help.

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by Johanna May Irwin

These days, it seems that mostly everyone suffers from some kind of digestive discomfort.  I am no exception. Having been diagnosed with IBS at the age of 12, I know all about bloating, believe me! Although my symptoms have eased over time thanks to dietary changes, cutting out all lactose, and reduced wheat, I still have a sensitive stomach.

The good news is that I have found that practicing Pilates really does ease my discomfort.


Here are three wonderful ways Pilates aids digestion.


The Breath

Throughout class, you are instructed to breath laterally. This allows your lungs to fill up to their greatest capacity. Not only does deep breathing help relax the mind and body–anxiety and stress are directly related to digestive issues– but each deep breath stimulates the internal organs, including the heart.

When the heart gets going, circulation is increased and you get fresh blood coursing through the body. This carries oxygen and nutrients to every cell while also removing waste products. Deep breathing is your easiest and most available internal cleansing mechanism.

Abdominal Strength

There is a strong abdominal focus in Pilates. This is important as the abdominal system supports the spine and the surrounding organs, including your digestive system.  Thus these exercises activate the core which engages and increases blood flow around the area.

Spine Extension

IBS sufferers often find themselves living with a closed front body, or poor hunched posture.  Don’t get down on yourself if you can relate to this; this is a protective instinct. In every Pilates class you will work on extending your spine which will allow your abdominals to stretch out, and creates a sense of space in the area. This space is essential for digestive comfort and reducing bloating.

Do you suffer from IBS or another digestive disorder? If so, have you found refuge in Pilates? Share your story below.