One sheep. Two sheep. Three sheep…
Are you having a hard time falling asleep at night? Do you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t seem to fall back asleep? You are not alone. Last year it was reported that about 10% of U.S. adults have a chronic insomnia disorder and that 30-35% have occasional bouts of insomnia. Frequent nights of poor sleep over time can cause extreme fatigue, problems with concentration and can adversely affect a person’s mood and well-being.
Getting enough sleep each night is essential to our overall health, but when insomnia hits, it is difficult to get those much needed Zs. Some people have resorted to taking medications to help them sleep, but it is not the most natural nor healthy choice for the body to get its recovery time in. Massage, however, is an effective, healthy, and substance free choice that has helped many people who have insomnia. Insomnia is often associated with a lack of serotonin, which plays a role in mood, behavior, body temperature, physical coordination, appetite and sleep. Massages can directly influence the body’s production of serotonin and can increase the levels of it. This makes massage a therapeutic drug-free means of reducing feelings of stress and anxiety, as well as increase a person’s ability to fall and stay asleep throughout the night.
The involvement of serotonin in sleep has been repeatedly proven and is needed for the body to produce melatonin. Melatonin being the hormone that influences the sleep stage of our circadian rhythm, the internal periodic rhythms that deeply affect sleep and wakefulness. When these rhythms are broken or interrupted, the result is discord and possible feelings of anxiousness and stress. Massage can help restore the balance so the rhythms ebb and flow in a more natural pattern.
According to Kray Kibler, CFO of Massage Warehouse, in his article published online at: http://www.sleepreviewmag.com/2014/05/massage-therapy-sleep/#sthash.Eibs069T.dpuf;
“Massage is a smart, healthy, and drug-free option that has helped many people overcome insomnia”
Other articles have agreed with this statement on insomnia and the positive affects massage therapy has on relieving sleep deprivation. It makes for a good argument. Why not try frequent massage therapy sessions to help increase your sleep? What do you have to lose?
“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” -Buddha
We talk about the physical benefits of massage a lot. Whether it’s relieving sore muscles, helping recover from an injury, or releasing tense muscles, we are often focusing on the physical side of the massages benefits. Did you know that massage is a proven way to help your mental wellness too? Massage is an effective way to help alleviate depression, anxiety, and stress.
Stress can cause both physical and mental ailments and if it becomes chronic, it may lead to even more serious health problems. We often become focused on diets, food intolerances, workouts, and keeping our bodies nourished and fit, that we often forget about the importance of keeping our minds healthy too. Adding massage into your healthy lifestyle mix will help address that mental side of your overall well-being too.
Research has shown that many people suffer from differing levels of mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 26.2 percent of Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. Of those suffering from mental illness, approximately 20.9 million Americans report experiencing mood disorders such as depression, while approximately 40 million suffer from an anxiety disorder.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 10 million Americans suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder - GAD. Symptoms of GAD range from mild worry about everyday concerns to crippling panic about imagined catastrophic events. Other symptoms of anxiety may include: shortness of breath, insomnia, chronic fatigue, muscular tension, irritability and inability to cope when issues arise.
Seasonal Affective Disorder –SAD, is also fairly common too, and it often becomes more prevalent during the next several months, as it affects many people during the colder, darker winter months. The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that “some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.”
Depression is another psychological condition that can negatively impact physical health, depression may have symptoms such as; headaches, insomnia, muscle tension focused in one region, such as the jaw or neck; lymphatic congestion due to lack of activity, and digestive problems, on top of the mood swings, feelings of hopelessness, fatigue, and loss of interest in things that the person used to enjoy.
So how does massage help in mental wellness? Massage has been well known for its relaxing and calming capabilities. It helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression by:
Massage therapy is not a cure-all, but it definitely can aid in managing mental wellness and stress levels. Getting regular massages can help ease the symptoms that are caused by chronic stress, sleep deprivation, and overuse of our minds and bodies. If you or a loved one has mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, talk to your doctors and a certified massage therapist to see how massage can fit into your overall treatment plan.
Massage, it does a body and mind good!
Courtney Truax, LMT is a graduate of East West College of the Healing Arts in Portland, Oregon. She is licensed through the Oregon Board of Massage Therapy and a member of the American Massage Therapy Association. She has her own studio massage practice in the heart of downtown Lake Oswego, Oregon.