The Effects of Massage Therapy on Sleep
Massage is a great way to relax the mind, body and spirit and have a much-needed moment to yourself. But it’s more than an indulgence—it soothes away stress, boosts your immune system and eases aches and pains. Massage can even give you that one thing you desire more than anything.
Just saying the word out loud makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Sleep is a basic necessity of life, as important to our health and well-being as air, food and water. When we sleep well, we wake up feeling refreshed, alert and ready to face the day.
And when we don’t, well, let’s just say that the day can quickly go from bad to worse.
How do you know if you’re getting enough sleep?
Forget about the old “8 hours a night” myth. The truth is, many people don’t require exactly 8 hours of sleep. Some need more, some need less.
The surefire way to tell how much sleep your body needs is to turn off your alarm clock. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without the annoying buzz of an alarm (and without coffee).
Sleep is sleep, right?
Nope. It’s not just the number of hours in bed that’s important—it’s the quality of those hours.
Your body goes through different stages of sleep throughout the night, and some are a deeper sleep than others. Deep sleep, when blood pressure drops, breathing slows down and muscles relax, is considered the “restorative” stage of sleep. It’s during this stage that blood supply to the muscles increases, tissue growth and repair occurs, and energy is restored.
Deep sleep is so important for a properly functioning body, yet many of us have a hard time achieving that much-needed, dead-to-the-world stage.
How can massage help you get more restful and restorative sleep?
- It boosts serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitter. Serotonin levels are typically low in people who cannot stay asleep and wake throughout the night.
- It lowers stress hormones. High levels of cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormone, can disrupt sleep patterns in a major way. It can wake you up in the middle of the night, prevent you from falling back to sleep, or leave you in an edgy state of mind.
- It reduces pain. Chronic pain is a lose-lose situation: Pain interrupts sleep, and the lack of sleep often makes pain worse. Massage therapy reduces pain (and restores deep sleep) by increasing blood blow to the joints and muscles, triggering the brain to release natural painkillers, and relaxing you, both physically and mentally