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Massage and Insomnia: The Healing Power of Touch

Studies have shown that massage enhances relaxation and improves sleep patterns, especially when used in tandem with essential oils.

A gentle massage can do more than just relieve pain and discomfort in the body. If you have chronic difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep because of insomnia, massage can help establish a pattern of restful and rejuvenating sleep.

As we move throughout our daily lives and experience stress, we store a lot of tension in our muscles and ligaments without knowing it. Restlessness at bedtime could be a result of anxiety, overwork, overeating, indigestion, an empty stomach, smoking, or an excessive intake of caffeine or sugar. Feeling angry, upset, resentful, afraid, or unsafe can also contribute to sleeplessness. Through massage, pent-up energy due to stress is released from targeted parts of the body.

Studies have shown that massage enhances relaxation and improves sleep patterns, especially when used in tandem with essential oils. Lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia) in particular may result in improved sleep quality, reduced anxiety, a more stable mood, and increased mental capacity, reports a study conducted at University of Maryland Medical Center.

That being said, certain types of massage may be more effective for particular people. Swedish Massage, the most popular type of massage, is both relaxing and stimulating as it combines movement of joints with soft, kneading strokes to massage the topmost muscle layers. Thai Massage, on the other hand, uses yoga-like stretching and puts gentle pressure on energy lines in the body called meridians. It is similar to Shiatsu Massage, which means “finger pressure” and involves the therapist using rhythmic pressure on precise acupressure points. Shiatsu massage focuses on restoring the flow of the body’s vital energy, called chi.

In addition, Neuromuscular Therapy Massage and Deep Tissue Massage are used in cases of chronic pain and severe stiffness. They target underlying causes of discomfort in the muscular and nervous systems. Chair Massage offers a 15- to 20-minute seated massage of one’s neck, head, shoulders, back, arms, and hands.

Edan Harari of Kinetic Massage Therapy says, “A good thing about massage is that while it’s recommended that you see a professional for complete and more effective one hour sessions, you can also benefit greatly from having your partner or a loved one give you some nurturing and gentle massage before you go to sleep.”

Regardless of which massage therapy you choose, the therapeutic qualities of massage can help manage insomnia. Be sure to maintain regular massage treatments until symptoms of sleeplessness subside.

Written by Nicole Kagan

Reviewed by Edan Harari, LMT

References

  • Benefits of thai massage. (n.d.).
    suphattrasretreat.com/Benefits.aspx
  • Insomnia. (2012, January 20). Retrieved from
    umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/insomnia-natural-treatments
  • Massage therapy styles and health benefits. (2012, May 10). Retrieved from
    webmd.com/balance/massage-therapy-styles-and-health-benefits