Can Massage Help You Sleep Better?

A good night’s sleep is crucial to our wellbeing and overall health. If you’ve ever had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, then you know that being tired or craving sleep can impact your entire day. You feel drowsy or irritable, your thoughts may be foggy, and you may start to notice a difference in your body as well. 
In Canada, more than 50% of women and 43% of men have problems falling asleep or staying asleep, and about one-third of Canadians aren’t getting enough sleep.
If this sounds familiar maybe it’s time you consider massage therapy to help you get some shut eye.


The Importance of Sleep

Not getting enough sleep has a ripple effect on several aspects of our life that contribute to our overall physical and mental health such as nutrition, activity and stress levels.

Sleep & Stress

Many people report that when the duration and quality of their sleep decreases, their stress levels increase. Studies show that lack of sleep lowers the threshold at which people perceive stress. In other words people tend to see situations that they would normally view as not very stressful as more so than if they were well rested.

Sleep & Nutrition

Did you know that the amount of sleep you get can impact your diet? Studies show that people who are sleep deprived feel hungrier and eat more food. Specifically, high-calorie foods like chips, and sweets. Even being deprived of a few hours of sleep for a day or two can stimulate the brain’s reward center for high-fat, processed food. The more junk you eat the worse and sluggish you feel.

Sleep & Activity

When we don’t get enough sleep we end up feeling lethargic and naturally want to conserve the energy that we do have. Therefore, it’s no surprise that studies have shown that sleep affects levels of physical activity. Specifically, lack of sleep has been shown to impact two aspects of activity; time and intensity.

Individuals that are sleep deprived spend less time being active and the time they are active is at a lower intensity. To receive the health benefits of being active such as weight management, reduced blood pressure, and increased energy, it is recommended to get 150 minutes of exercise per week. This may seem like a huge feat when you are feeling tired and lethargic from a poor sleep.

Massage for Better Sleep

Massage therapy is a great option to help you get a better night’s sleep. It has been shown to increase levels of serotonin which is a precursor to melatonin, the hormone that helps us fall asleep.  One study investigating the benefits of massage therapy for insomnia found an improvement in sleep patterns in participants by polysomnography (sleep study). Results showed a reduction in REM sleep (dream cycle) with an increase in sleep stages 3 and 4 (deep sleep phases), which is rejuvenating and restorative.
Another study on back pain, published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, demonstrated that in addition to a decrease in long-term pain, subjects receiving massage experienced improved sleep and an increase in serotonin levels. Results were based on twice-weekly, 30-minute massages for 5 weeks. In addition to other assessments, a sleep scale to measure quality of sleep and urine samples to measure levels of serotonin were used in the study.
Other causes for a disturbed or poor sleep is often due to stress or pain, both of which massage can alleviate. Massage therapy can greatly reduce stress levels and the effects it has on the body. Studies carried out by the Touch Institute at the University of Miami found that massage was found to reduce levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body. In a systematic review it was found that in studies in which cortisol was examined either in saliva or urine, significant decreases were noted in cortisol levels (averaging decreases 31%).
A study that evaluated the use of massage therapy for pain management in hospital inpatients found it provided significant pain reduction. Pain levels were recorded before and after massage therapy using a  0–10 visual analog scale. Before the massage, the mean pain level recorded by the patients was 5.18. After massage, the mean pain level was 2.33.
I know how much sleep matters, and I’m a firm believer in the benefits of massage therapy for sleep disturbances, and sleep disorders. Let’s work together to help you experience the benefits of massage therapy, so you can sleep better at night, and wake up feeling rested, happy, and well the next morning. Schedule your appointment today 🙂

See you on the massage table soon 🙂 



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