We all know that consistently getting a good night sleep is a vital part in our overall health and well-being. What if you are one of the many people who struggles with insomnia? Getting a restful night sleep allows us to recharge our batteries, so to speak. It is our body’s time to rest and recover so that we can function at our best throughout the day, both physically and mentally. Not getting a solid night sleep every night can take a big toll on your health and mood.
Insomnia is when you have difficulties falling asleep at night or staying asleep. Acute insomnia may occur a couple of nights, but chronic insomnia happens multiple nights a week for at least several months in a row. The lack of sleep can cause the following symptoms:
• Waking up not feeling refreshed
• Feeling fatigued throughout the day
• Leads to feelings of irritability, anxiety, or depression
• Difficulties focusing and concentrating
• Can affect your memory
Some triggers that can cause insomnia to occur are:
• Stress and anxiety
• Pain and soreness
• Over eating or going to bed hungry
• Consuming caffeine, sugar, or alcohol before bed
• Lack of physical activity (exercise)
Insomnia is also often associated with a lack of serotonin, which plays a role in mood, behavior, body temperature, physical coordination, appetite, and sleep. 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 unrest and possible feelings of anxiousness and stress.
If taking medications to try and help you sleep is not working, or you are opposed to taking any medications, there are other alternatives to help you get a more complete and restful night sleep. Massage therapy being one of the top ways to help reduce insomnia in a natural, drug-free, way. Massage has been shown to help promote sleep by:
• Promoting relaxation
• Calming the mind and body
• Reducing stress and tension
• Decreasing feelings of anxiety and depression
• Relieving pain and muscle soreness
• Soothing the nervous system
• Stimulating the production of serotonin
• Lowering heart rate and blood pressure
Massage has been known for bringing your mind and body back into harmony and for reducing the triggers that can lead to insomnia. Frequent massage sessions can help you fall asleep faster and promote a longer, deeper sleep. Even a simple back rub for 15 minutes every night before bed, or massaging your own forearms, hands, feet, neck, and face, can help reduce insomnia. Massage may not be the first thing someone with insomnia may think of trying, but those who have often claim to have had a better night sleep after receiving a professional massage. It just may be worth a try. Schedule yourself several massages in the coming weeks and see how it affects your sleep at night.
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.