Sleepless Nights? Try a Massage
By Daisy Sutherland
Do you suffer from sleepless nights? You are not alone sleep disorders are very common. Most people do not realize that massage can in fact help improve your sleep. Massage therapy is a known method to reduce stress and tension, but can it actually help with your sleep disorders? Research shows that massage therapy can remedy your sleepless nights.
Our bodies have an autonomic system that is made of two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic system. The parasympathetic system keeps the sympathetic system balanced. When you are stressed the sympathetic system is triggered and you will feel the sensation of fight or flight. The parasympathetic system is activated during a massage and allows your body to slow down and relax. If stress or tension are causes for your sleeplessness you will be relieved to know that one of the benefits of massage enhanced sleep patterns. Many actually fall asleep while having a professional massage.
Massage helps to reduce stress, improve circulation, soothe aching muscles, release tension and reduce or lower your blood pressure. It is thought that it can also stimulate the immune system. These relaxing results may therefore make massage a helpful aid in restoring restful sleep. Massage is even more beneficial when restless nights stem from stress, migraine headaches, and pain and muscle stiffness. Several studies have shown massage therapy to not only lessen lower back pain and headaches, but also by reducing the stress, anxiety and depression making restful sleep achievable. (Hernandez-Reif et al, 2001; Sunshine et al, 1996; Field et al, 2002; Hernandez-Reif et al, 1998)
Sleep is required for the immune system to work at its optimum level. If the immune system is compromised, the ability of our body to heal itself is also compromised. If we are stressed or sleep deprived, our health is seriously compromised. Massage can help relieve the stress and tension. Massage does not necessarily need to be done by a professional to capture all its benefits. You can ask your friend, partner, spouse or family member for a soothing rubdown. You can also give yourself a mini massage, concentrating on the muscle groups you can reach.
Relaxation techniques, such as massage therapy can definitely reduce stresses, and frustrations leading to the tossing and turning and anxiety of sleepless nights. Therapeutic massage can have not only external physical benefits but internal benefits as well. Massage and aromatherapy can relax your muscles and help with blood and lymph circulation. A massage can help reduce the nerve irritation and can help with increased production of pain-killing endorphins. There are many sweet smelling balms and massage oils on the market used to relieve stress. The aroma and the feel of the oils offer a calming and relaxing environment.
There are different types of therapeutic massage techniques that can help and some are listed below.
Reflexology: This type of massage focuses on specific ‘reflex zones’ on your feet. This type of massage relieves tension and pain and improves circulation in the areas of your body that corresponds to the reflex zones of the feet.
Sports Massage: This type of massage improves athletic performance and endurance by massaging specific muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Neuromuscular Massage: This massage type focuses on the connective tissues, tendons and ligaments and nerves. This particular massage focuses on the tension areas called ‘trigger points’.
Swedish Massage: This massage has a smooth and flowing style. It focuses on overall relaxation, circulation, and range of motion and relieves muscular tension.
Rolfing: This massage is not as relaxing it tends to be more painful. IT is painful because it focuses on the deeper soft tissues of the joints.
Some areas to concentrate on when massaging to promote relaxation and restful sleep are the temples of the head. The motion should be small circular movement done with fingers and hands. Another areas to promote relaxation are the scalp, forehead, face, neck and upper shoulders. Much of our stress is carried in the shoulder area, so relaxing and massaging this area will definitely create relief.
There are many reasons that massage and sleep make a perfect match:
- Eliminates headaches
- Relieves stress
- Reduces muscle tension
- Reduces lower pain and strain
- Relaxes nervous tension
- Increases blood circulation
- Eases chronic fatigue syndrome
- Assists with weight control
After a relaxing massage, sleep will be restored as a time of rest instead as a time of restlessness. Be sure to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and help with the release and filtration of toxins. You will feel more relaxed with reduced stress and tension and be able to sleep all night long. You will wake up refreshed and ready to start a new day.
Dr. Mommy (aka Dr. Daisy) is a Doctor of Chiropractic by profession, wife, mom to 5 beautiful children, freelance and content writer, speaker and Health/Wellness Advocate. Her passion is to teach the public how to live healthier and happier lives. Visit her site for health tips: Dr. Mommy Health Tips http://drmommyhealthtips.com
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Tip: The Stick is an excellent tool for self-massage. Try rolling out before you go to bed!