Massage and Insomnia

You settle into a warm, relaxing bed, close your eyes and nothing happens. You just can’t fall asleep. Hours go by and you’re still awake. The next day you feel tired, grouchy and are unable to focus. Does this sound familiar?

Sleepless nights happen to almost everyone at some time, but ongoing insomnia can indicate a deeper issue and could lead to further health concerns. Unfortunately, a common approach to treating insomnia includes prescription-sleeping medications, which can cause side effects or even dependence.

Massage therapy is a natural approach to treating your sleep problems. A gentle Swedish relaxation massage invokes the body’s natural relaxation response. A regular massage will train the brain to more easily activate the relaxation response and help to balance the body’s natural sleep – wake cycle known as the circadian rhythm.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia, or sleeplessness, is characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Occasional insomnia is a common problem, affecting about one in four Americans. It can happen to anyone, but is more common in older adults.

Symptoms of insomnia include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up during the night
  • Waking up too early
  • Daytime fatigue and irritability
  • Frustration and moodiness

Insomnia can be frustrating, but it’s more than just an annoyance. When insomnia becomes ongoing, or chronic, your body is unable to get the rest and renewal it needs for you to feel your best. In fact, a lack of quality sleep can cause problems such as difficulty concentrating, diminished energy, low mood, and trouble performing everyday tasks. Since sleep strengthens the immune system, insomnia can leave you susceptible to many other health concerns as well.

Because sleepless nights can be detrimental to your health, massage offers a natural, drug-free option to getting those much-needed Z’s.

Did you know massage improves sleep quality?

Have you ever fallen asleep on the massage table? It’s easy to do because massage puts the body and mind in a state of relaxation. When the body is relaxed, the brain releases serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone released by the brain that is related to mood, behavior, body temperature, physical coordination, appetite and sleep. Serotonin can be converted to melatonin, a hormone that quiets and resets the sleep – wake cycle.

Massage has been proven to increase serotonin levels and improve sleep quality. In a study conducted by the Touch Research Institute, subjects not only experienced a decrease in low back pain, but also had improved sleep quality and fewer sleep disturbances.

What type of massage is beneficial?

If you or someone you know suffers from insomnia, try massage first. The following types of massage are indicated to help with insomnia:

  • Deep tissue massage improves relaxation response
  • Swedish massage can improve the quality of sleep
  • Aromatherapy massage can stimulate the relaxation response and while also relaxing the mind with soothing essential oils

What can you do?

If you suffer from sleepless nights, you deserve to sleep better tonight, set aside time on a regular basis for a massage.

In addition to scheduling a regular massage, here are some more tips for healthy sleep:

  • Stick to a regular schedule
  • Plan to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
  • Stay active. Exercise regularly, but not within a few hours of bedtime
  • Don’t eat large meals before bed
  • Try not to nap. If you really need to nap, try to keep it short, less than 45 minutes
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. All of these can add to sleep problems
  • Relax. Try taking a warm bath, meditating or reading to wind down before going to sleep


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