There are a ton of things that get in the way of our best sleep. Stress, scheduling, and an abundance of stimulation all can work against us and leave us feeling helpless in the face of another sleepless night. The good and bad news is that you’re not alone. A new study by NPR shows that sixty million americans currently suffer from insomnia, and with the advent of smartphones, binge watching, and constant emails that number doesn’t feel like it’s going down anytime soon.
And don’t think that sleep is a luxury, more and more the evidence suggests that losing sleep can really mess with your body on a fundamental level. Insomnia reduces cognitive functions while you’re awake, and also increases the likelihood of depression.
So what can you do when you’re in the midst of a barrage of sleepless nights? The answer could be as simple as getting a massage. It’s often been the case that massages can help us during our conscious hours, but what is it about them that can help with sleepless nights? We took a deep dive to see if those claims could hold up.
A lot of sleep remedies these days are expensive and a little dubious. New technology like sleep aids can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, and nobody wants to pop more pills than they have to. For those people, massage can be a natural cure that works on some fundamental issues. There’s even a new school of massage specifically targeted toward sleep called, “insomnia massage” that purports to restore sleep schedules through reducing anxiety, pain, and increasing relaxation.
“When you are deprived of deep sleep, certain kinds of pain chemicals are released,” explains Dr. Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine.
When you alleviate those symptoms, it can allow the body to get on track easier and resume it’s normal sleep schedule. It isn’t a permanent cure for sleeplessness (for that you still need to put in your eight hours in bed) but it can help you along the way enough so that you can get back on track and beat insomnia.
This isn’t just in the mind either, a new study shows that there are real benefits to getting regular massages. In the study, people with lower back pain who had 30-minute massage sessions twice a week for five weeks reported a decrease in pain and fewer sleep disturbances. Not only that, massage can help alleviate symptoms of restless leg syndrome, another enemy of sleep that affects many.
So the next time you’re feeling like you’re locked in a bout with insomnia, try giving a massage a try. They’re usually a good, inexpensive route with few downsides. As we said, massages or cures of any kind are never a substitute for a lot of good mattress time, when taken as part of a holistic sleep cure, a massage can be just what the doctor ordered. Remember, self care is a vital component of your health, when you’re awake, and especially when you’re sleeping.