Can Massage Therapy Help you Sleep
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep and is often associated with not getting enough sleep. It can be either an acute or chronic disorder. Shockingly, insomnia is a problem that affects a staggering number of adults in Canada where somewhere between 40 and 50% of people will experience symptoms of insomnia at some point in their adult life. Unfortunately, insomnia can lead to poor mood, difficulty thinking and concentrating, and obviously fatigue. There are many factors that contribute to insomnia but stress and pain are among its leading causes. Luckily, there are steps you can take to improve your sleep and massage therapy can help.
First it is important to understand that stress, pain, and insomnia are all linked. Individuals who suffer from chronic plain are also much more likely to experience problems with sleep. Poor sleep then impacts your body’s ability to heal while also contributing to increased stress as it can be significantly more difficult to function effectively when you’re not sleeping well. Ultimately, the vicious circle of pain, poor sleep, poor functioning, and increased stress can make it more and more difficult to distinguish the underlying causes for your symptoms of pain and insomnia while also making it very challenging to get them under control.
Proper sleep hygiene is certainly an important factor to consider. Essentially, sleep hygiene is all about setting healthy sleep routines. Sleep experts recommend developing a number of healthy sleep habits:
- Setting regular sleep and wake times
- Avoiding napping during the day
- Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and sweets in the evening
- Avoiding screens (televisions, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.) for at least 30 minutes before bed
- Using your bed for sleep, sickness, and sex only
- Getting at least 30 minutes of daylight exposure daily
- Creating a regular exercise routine
- Implementing healthy stress management strategies.
Of course, managing stress can be tricky particularly in the context of chronic pain (or even a global pandemic). This is where massage therapy provided by a registered massage therapist (RMT) can provide benefits. RMT treatments are an evidence-based treatment for chronic pain and stress management. By mitigating the impact of pain and stress, massage therapy may promote better sleep too.
Even for otherwise healthy individuals, evidence suggests that massage therapy improves the quality of sleep for people throughout the lifespan from babies to the elderly. Not only does massage therapy seem to have a positive effect when it comes to falling asleep, but also for staying asleep. The mechanism by which massage therapy can improve sleep quality isn’t entirely understood; however research has shown that massage can increase serotonin levels which is necessary for the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep.
So, if you’re having difficulty sleeping, ask your RMT about how massage can help.