Tag Archives: massage for sleep problems

Do You Sleep Like a Baby? Massage Therapy Can Help!

Do You Sleep Like a Baby? Massage Therapy Can Help!

SAW 2017In recognition of April as National Sleep Awareness Month, we explore the connection between massage therapy and getting a good night’s sleep – every night!

“Sleep like a baby” is a misunderstood term in our language. It commonly means that one sleeps long and soundly. However, “long and soundly” is not the reality with most babies –  in reality, they wake up and cry every 3 hours!

So… do you “sleep like a baby?” Or do you sleep like the millions of adults who suffer from chronic sleep problems?

There is a sleep crisis in our culture. Getting enough sleep is challenging for alarmingly large numbers of people. According to a National Sleep Foundation poll, 58% of adults experience at least one of the four symptoms of insomnia at least several times a week:

1. Difficulty falling asleep

2. Waking frequently

3. Waking and can’t return to sleep

4. Feeling unrested in the morning

37% reported that sleep deprivation interferes with daytime alertness and activities.

While sleep neurochemistry is very complex, this article explores the crucial neurotransmitter serotonin and its relationship to massage therapy.

Serotonin is essential to our survival, affecting mood, behavior, body temperature, physical coordination, appetite and sleep. Derived from the amino acid tryptophan, serotonin is a precursor to melatonin production. Melatonin quiets and resets the circadian rhythm – periodic cycles of sleep and wakefulness.

The chemistry of sleep is relevant to massage therapy because massage can directly influence the body’s production of serotonin. A study on back pain was conducted in January 2000 by the Touch Research Institute in conjunction with the University of Miami School of Medicine and Iris Burman of Miami’s Educating Hands School of Massage, and originally published in the International Journal of Neuroscience in 2001. It demonstrated that in addition to a decrease in long-term pain, subjects receiving massage experienced improved sleep and an increase in serotonin levels.

Massage is a healthy, intelligent and substance-free choice to help people who suffer from chronic insomnia. Because serotonin affects sleep in multiple areas of the brain, it is logical to seek ways to increase serotonin levels for people that are sleep-deprived. In addition, serotonin is needed for our bodies to produce melatonin. As melatonin influences the sleep stage of our circadian rhythm, a natural way of boosting serotonin is a positive sleep-inducing option. This connection calls for further research showing the direct affects massage therapy has on serotonin and sleep. Meanwhile, the existing evidence is adequate to confirm the effectiveness of regular massage therapy for sleepless patients.

Massage Therapy for Better Sleep: The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

Massage Therapy for Better Sleep: The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

In recognition of May as National Sleep Awareness Month, we explore the value of massage therapy to help treat and overcome chronic insomnia.

“We are such stuff as dreams are made of and our little life is rounded with a sleep…” – William Shakespeare (The Tempest)

Shakespeare was probably not thinking of insomnia when he wrote that line. But to millions of insomniacs, sleep is as illusive as a dream.

There is a sleep crisis in our culture. Sleep does not come easily to alarmingly large numbers of people. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) “Sleep in America” Poll, 74% of adult respondents claim they experience at least one of these four symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights a week:

– Difficulty falling asleep

– Waking frequently during the night

– Waking and unable to return to sleep

– Waking up tired and unrefreshed

35% of respondents reported at least one of these four symptoms every night during the past year. 37% reported that sleep deprivation interferes with their daytime activities and alertness.

Chronic insomnia is poor sleep every night or most nights for more than six months. This endless cycle can cause extreme fatigue, problems with concentration and can adversely affect a person’s mood and well-being. Recurring insomnia should be evaluated by a healthcare professional or a sleep disorder specialist.

There seems to be a significant relationship between the serotonin component of sleep and its relationship to massage therapy. The crucial neurotransmitter serotonin is essential to our survival, affecting mood, behavior, body temperature, physical coordination, appetite and sleep. Serotonin is a precursor to melatonin production. Melatonin resets the part of the brain that directs circadian rhythm – periodic cycles of sleep and wakefulness.

The chemistry of sleep is relevant to massage therapy because massage can directly influence the body’s production of serotonin. A study on back pain conducted by the Touch Research Institute at University of Miami School of Medicine demonstrated that in addition to a decrease in long-term pain, subjects receiving massage experienced improved sleep and an increase in serotonin levels.

Massage relaxes the muscles, improves circulation, soothes the nervous system and increases production of pain-killing endorphins. It can also reduce the tension from daily stresses that lead to a night of tossing and turning, as well as daytime anxiety, drowsiness and poor performance. Therapeutic massage can help with sleep disorders that have a neuromuscular origin such as pain, tension, muscle spasms and Restless Legs Syndrome.

Insomnia is common problem for hospitalized patients. Massage has been useful as an adjunct or alternative option to prescription sleep medications. A study conducted by the University of Arkansas with hospitalized critically ill elderly men concluded that back massage is useful for promoting sleep in this population.

Restless babies and children may also benefit from a massage by sleeping more peacefully. In one study of children and adolescents, those who participated in a 30-minute massage daily for five days slept longer and more soundly.

In addition to helping an infant sleep, the “calming touch” of a parent establishes a valuable opportunity to soothe and nurture the baby. As little as 15 minutes of massage a day significantly affects infant sleep patterns with deeper sleep of longer duration.

Massage therapy is a healthy, intelligent and substance-free choice to help people who suffer from chronic insomnia.