Walking into work after a long, sleepless night of tossing and turning is simply the worst. Your head is pounding, you’re in a terrible mood, and the only thing keeping your eyes open is the cup of coffee in your hand—and even that is not doing the trick. If you know the frustration of sleeplessness and complete exhaustion the next day, you know that sufficient sleep is absolutely vital for healthy functioning.
During sleep your body rejuvenates and recovers from the strain of day-to-day activity. While asleep, the brain has time to take care of “housekeeping tasks” it can’t get done during the day, like organizing your memory and repairing cells and tissues.
Sleep is vital for a healthy mind and body, yet many of us still do not get enough sleep and suffer as a consequence. If you have trouble sleeping, you’re not alone. According to research studies, thirty percent of Americans struggle with sleep issues. While you have probably tried every trick in the book—from counting sheep to a warm glass of milk before bed—you may not know that Massage Therapy could be your key to finally overcoming insomnia. Massage Therapy can help alleviate the leading causes of sleeplessness.
Sleep hormones are out of whack. Massage has been shown to improve sleep on a chemical level. “Massage is a manual medicine that stimulates many systems of the body, including the nervous system which creates a chemical exchange in the brain to assist with sleep,” says Daniel Jaramillo, Licensed Massage Therapist. “Massage reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which is constantly telling the body it’s time to wake up. At the same time, massage increases the neuro-hormone serotonin.” This feel-good hormone is the precursor to melatonin, which is the brain’s cue to quiet down and prepare for sleep. The more serotonin that is released in massage, the easier and quicker you can drift off into sleep. Additionally, massage increases delta brain waves, which are linked to deep sleep.
Stress and Anxiety. When you are stressed, you can’t seem to tell your brain to relax. Your mind races at night making it impossible to fall asleep. Massage has been clinically proven to reduce stress and anxiety in patients ranging from healthy adults to those with severe depression and anxiety. Massage brings on the “relaxation response” which slows heart and breathing rates, lowers blood pressure and decreases stress hormone production by up to 53%. When your body is physically relaxed, your mind is also able to relax, resulting in lifted spirits and deeper sleep. Soon, everyday stress and worry will no longer determine the amount of sleep you get.
Pain and soreness. Studies show that massage relaxes the nervous system, relieving long-term pain and soreness that keep sufferers from getting the sleep they desperately need. This includes maternity pains, migraine pain, arthritis pain, and chronic back pain. Benefits can last up to six months. Massage also calms neurotransmitters in the brain that perceive pain, lessening your perception of pain in the future. If you can’t sleep because your muscles are sore from overexerting yourself physically, massage helps muscles to recover their strength by up to 60%.
Over-caffeinated. When you haven’t slept well, it’s natural to be cranky—especially if you haven’t had your coffee yet. Massage is also an all-natural mood-booster that gives you the energy you need to take on the day. By stimulating the lymph and circulation systems, massage speeds up delivery of energy-giving nutrients. Massage also helps with headaches; if you are caffeine dependent, you know headaches well. You’ll leave a massage with a natural pep in your step, reducing your need for stimulants to get you through the day.
Skip the over-the-counter sleep aids or potentially harmful sleeping pills. Massage is a smart, all-natural alternative that has helped many people overcome insomnia.