Using Massage to Improve Sleep
This is the second in a series of articles on Sleep. Use can use Natural Body Massage techniques in your goal to improve sleep. Find out more below, courtesy of our friends at Best Mattress Reviews.
“It’s helpful to know that massage can help improve your sleep, but it can be hard to put this into practice. Here are some ideas. At least one should work for you.
Get Some Massages
Get on the phone, call up a local massage center or chiropractor’s office, and find someone who can fit you in. However, note that it doesn’t say “Get a Massage.” That’s because most of the studies that have been done use more than one massage. While one would likely be beneficial, the truth is that your body has some long patterns of not sleeping well. It may take regular massages for quite a while to get you sleeping well again.
There are several different types of massage to choose from. Swedish is the most popular in the western world. It is gentle and involves using techniques like long strokes, kneading, and circular motion to help your body relax. Sports massage is similar but tailored toward people who work out regularly or practice a certain sport. Deep tissue massage is a bit rougher and utilizes techniques to get down into layers of muscles that might not otherwise benefit. Trigger point massage focuses on releasing muscles on specific sore spots.
The upside to all of this is that you will feel more relaxed and sleep better. However, getting regular massages can be expensive and inconvenient, too.
If you can’t make it out to a massage therapist a few times a week or you don’t want to pay for it, there are some massage techniques you can do at home. These can offer you the same benefits as getting a massage, for a much lower price.
Foot reflexology. The bottom of the foot has up to 15,000 nerve endings, and massaging these has been shown to improve health all over the body. While different parts of the foot seem to be connected to particular parts of the body, massaging the bottom of the foot as a whole can also help with relaxation.
- Start your foot massage by squeezing or pushing your foot in a way that feels good to you. You can even roll the bottom of your foot with a lacrosse ball or a golf ball if that feels good. Spend some extra time pushing on your foot right below the ball of your big toe. Push and hold this for 5-10 seconds at a time.
- Spend some extra time rubbing the outside of your big toe, which can stimulate melatonin production. Rubbing the ridge of your toes can help relax your neck and shoulders and pressure on the ball of your foot can relax your breathing. Overall, spend 5-10 minutes massaging each foot before bedtime.
Head massage. It can be hard to massage certain parts of your own body, but you should be able to rub your head. Your head has some acupressure points that can be helpful for sleep.
- Start by rubbing the middle of the top of your head. If you drew two lines up your skull from the top of both ears, this point is right where they would meet. Push straight down about 100 ties or rub around in 100 circles here.
- Move to the points where your eyebrows end near your nose. Again, you can apply direct pressure here or move your fingers in tiny circular motions. Try to push at least 30 ties or make 30 circles.
- Finally, rub along your eyebrows and just under your eyes. Use longer, sweeping motions here, rubbing the whole eyebrow in one movement. Try to do both eyes at the same time, at least 20 times.
Face massage. If you carry stress in your muscles, you may carry more of it in your face than you had thought. Rubbing your face can release this tension, helping you rest better.
- You can begin this massage wherever your face feels tight. Start with the large muscles at the back of your jaw. Press gently into them and make small circles with your fingers. Explore these muscles for hidden tension, massaging it out as you can.
- Move to your temples. Don’t put too much pressure here, but explore for places that are tender and make gentle circles on top of them. As the pressure releases, you can press harder.
- End by massaging your forehead. You can go straight up and down from the bridge of your nose, or follow the pattern of your eyebrows in bigger and bigger arcs until you have covered your whole forehead.
Use whatever specific technique of self-massage helps you the most. Learn them all, as some may help some days and others on other days. Before long, you should be getting more sleep.”