Massage and Sleep

Massage and Sleep

With world sleep day being celebrated in March we thought it was an appropriate time to address your questions surrounding massage and sleep. In this article Lauren and Debbie examine some of the massage and sleep research and explore massage therapy and sleep. We hope we can answer the question:  Can Massage Improve Sleep? 

What can affect quality and quantity of sleep?

There are many factors which can affect quality and quantity of sleep, including stress, anxiety, pain, nutrition and medication we may take for various reasons. In fact, on average, it is important that most of us require sleep for around 8 hours of good quality sleep per night, in order to function properly each day (NHS, 2021).  

Why is sleep so important?

There are many reasons that sleep are important, here are just a few:

  • Improved concentration and productivity
  • Sleep improving immune function
  • Sleep can improve emotions and social interactions
  • Enhanced recovery rates 

How can massage positively impact on sleep? Why does massage put you to sleep? 

Massage therapy has been shown to improve a number of outcomes, whether this relates to reducing stress, anxiety, pain, muscle tension, fatigue, heart rate, blood pressure or increasing blood circulation and endorphins (Bauer et al., 2010)Sleep also plays a very important role with physical and psychological restoration and recovery, energy, memory alliance, release of emotions, brain growth and the upkeep of the immune system (Samuels, 2008). Consequently, this allows our muscles to relax, repair and enhance recovery. 

Can massage help you sleep?

Massage is great for those who may find difficulty in having a good quality sleep. It is a great way to generate a sense of relaxation, which can assist in a relaxing and deep sleep. Massage therapy has beneficial effects to the manual lymphatic drainage, which helps to reduce muscle stiffness, depression, anxiety, stress, increase mobility and increase an individual’s quality of life (Yuan et al., 2015). Massage therapy is also known to help the quality of sleep, in relation to  pain reduction and management, whether this relates to an injury or condition or those general aches and pains (Field, 2016).

 As we know, sleep can be affected by many associated factors such as stress and anxiety. Massage therapy has been shown to significantly reduce these symptoms in relation to having a relaxing and comforting effect, meaning that the quality of our sleep is much better (Mei et al., 2017; Mobini-Bidgoli et al., 2017). We believe that this is largely due to massage therapies direct influence on the body’s production of serotonin and the creation of melatonin.

How does massage help with insomnia?

Insomnia affects many of us. This website gives some great insight into what insomnia is and relevant self help. As mentioned previously massage has been shown to help anxiety and stress and thus may also help some individuals with insomnia. Perhaps it is worth considering making massage part of your life routine? Using massage to sleep well may then become part of your ‘sleep hygiene”.

Sports massage and sleep.

Within massage therapy, a massage technique called myofascial release therapy can be used as part of sports massage or remedial massage. This is when pain usually originates from specific points within your myofascial tissues called trigger points. Massage therapists performing this form of treatment will focus on reducing pain by easing the tension and tightness in the trigger points. In doing so, massage therapists want to help with being able to improve pain, and as many symptoms as possible. For example, reduce fatigue, stiffness, and most importantly improve quality of life (Yuan et al., 2015). As a massage therapist, it is fantastic to see the benefits it has on a patient’s quality of life using various types of massage, such as, sports massage and swedish massage. 

Sleep, massage and essential oils.

A 2017 article examined if aromatherapy massage would improve sleep quality for nurses on nightshift. They concluded that massage can improve sleep.

At keheren therapy we use a blend of oils to add relaxation and sleep. Our favourite for sleep and relaxation is AromaTouch. This is a combination of Cypress, Peppermint, Marjoram, Basil, Grapefruit, and Lavender. Don’t worry before we use it we want to make sure its your favourite too!

There are many articles published about aromatherapy and sleep. During our research we found it great to see places supporting its use in cancer therapy.

Can massage help me sleep if I am pregnant?

pregnancy massage Truro

A 2020 study explored the benefits of massage therapy to help sleep in the third trimester of pregnancy. Although study numbers were low the results were positive and in favour of massage improving sleep in pregnant women. At our clinic in Truro we provide pregnancy massage via the Hydrotherm System. We believe in the many benefits of Hydrotherm massage but one of the many benefits aiding prenatal massage and sleep and Pregnancy massage and sleep is that their is no need to turn over during a massage. This means that there will be no need to disturb you who you are relaxing or even if you doze off!

Is it rude to fall to sleep during a massage? 

Some people find it rude to fall asleep during a massage. Believe me if you have come for a relaxation massage with the aim to relax and switch off it is not rude. In fact we believe this is a complement to your therapist! They have done their job! A good relaxation massage will tell your body that is is time to switch off, rest, relax and recharge your batteries for a while.

Massage, sleep and the Hydrotherm effect.

Here, at Keheren Therapy, we have a Hydrotherm System, which involves warm water-filled pads placed on top of the massage couch. This fantastic set up also allows the patient to stay in one position throughout the whole massage, meaning that the patient can lay on their back the entire time and does not need to change position at any given point. This is particularly useful for people who suffer with widespread chronic pain, fatigue, stiffness, and mobility issues. 

Of course the heat of the Hydrotherm cushions also means you are warm, relaxed and comfortable throughout the treatment.

Alternative considerations

The World Sleep Day website gives a list of things you can do to improve your sleep. Here are just a few:

  • Natural exposure to light (being outside)during the day time
  • Develop a sleep routine
  • avoid caffeine products
  • avoid distractions.

We hope we have answered your questions surrounding can massage improve sleep? If you have any further questions please feel free to contact Debbie or Lauren.