Along with nutrition and physical activity, sleep is crucial for proper functioning. Still, according to the data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35% of US adults sleep less than the recommended 7-8 hours.
If you’re one of these people, then science has good news for you:
A massage session is what can help you improve your sleep.
Continue reading this article to find out which types of massage have the best efficiency in this case!
How Does Massage Work for Better Sleep?
Massage has a thousand-year history as a remedy for different health problems, pains, and diseases.
The relaxing properties of this method can be explained as follows:
- Massage lowers the levels of cortisol, your primary stressful hormone, which triggers the ‘fight-or-flight’ response and may provoke anxiety and insomnia.
- During the massage session, you boost your serotonin levels. Serotonin is a ‘happy molecule’, which not only is associated with an elevated state of mind but also takes part in the production of melatonin. The latter is the sleep hormone that winds you down and sets your body in a sleep preparation mode.
Thus, a massage session works as a melatonin booster, and the greatest thing about it is that you don’t have to take melatonin pills anymore. Although this type of sleep remedy can be beneficial, some people might overdose on melatonin, as the pills often contain high doses of this substance.
Your body, on the other hand, produces the exact amount of melatonin it needs and ensures that your sleep will be sound and peaceful.
Most Effective Massage Techniques for Boosting Melatonin
So, what massage technique has the best efficiency in releasing melatonin?
In fact, you can use any massage you like, as they’re all very relaxing in their own way. Still, some types provide better relief than others, and they are listed below for your convenience.
Deep Tissue Massage
This type of massage involves using hard pressure to reach deep parts of the strained muscles. A therapist can do this type of massage by hands or use a vacuum roller cupping technique with silicone cups. However, deep tissue massages can often be confused with a painful massage. Check out our blog to find out what massage strength is good for you to ensure that you don't injure yourself and have a great massage experience!
Deep tissue massage can aid you in better sleep by:
- relieving deep muscle knots;
- ensuring a melatonin boost by lowering cortisol levels;
- providing total relaxation of the nervous system;
- improving blood flow.
“A 2014 study published in the Sleep Science Journal reported that using massage therapy along with hormonal treatment improved both physical and psychological symptoms in postmenopausal women.”
Sports massage, as the name implies, works best for muscle soreness and possible mild injuries after a hard workout. To achieve the effect, a massage therapist uses repetitive motion and multiple strokes on the area. Or, get yourself a Thumper Sport to help yourself out!
The benefits of sports massage for your sleep are the following:
- it increases blood flow and provides a warming effect to help reduce soreness and stiffness;
- it flushes out the lactic acid from the muscles for better pain relief;
- it balances out the levels of adrenal hormones, which aid in alertness during the workout.
“Researchers suggest that a one-hour massage session can decrease the levels of cortisol in your blood by 31% while elevating levels of serotonin and dopamine by 28% and 31% respectively.”
Swedish massage is the least intensive technique that you can get from a specialist. It uses light strokes and kneading, which are beneficial for top layers of muscles and tissues. However, this amount of pressure is just right to relax you and wind down to sleep.
The main advantages of Swedish massage for a good shut-eye include the following:
- mild relief for the whole body — an excellent way to end a rough day;
- relaxation of the strained muscles and neuronal clusters around hands and feet;
- increased levels of serotonin, which increase melatonin production and alleviate stress.
“One hour of massage can be as beneficial as a good power nap during the day. And while power napping and its impact on the quality of your rest remain a discussed topic among scientists, a massage session does its job 100% fine and ensures you a heaven-like sleep.”
Sometimes making an appointment with a qualified massage therapist isn’t possible.
Don’t worry! Even self-massaging before sleep can do the trick and send you to the Land of Nod in minutes. To make things easier, you can invest in an electric massager.
To achieve maximum effectiveness, try to pay attention to the following body areas:
- Neck. The neck is the area that can get the most pressure from a sedentary way of life. That’s why if you’re an office worker, neck massage in the evenings can do miracles to your sleep quality. To relax the neck, reach your left shoulder with your right arm and press the neck muscle with a thumb knuckle in a circular motion (you may want to rotate your neck a bit during this process). Repeat with the other side of the neck, using your right shoulder and left arm, until you achieve the desired relaxation.
- Back. A sore back can easily wreck your sleep. The thing is, you can relax it at home using a tennis ball. It’s pretty straightforward: when standing close to a wall, place a tennis ball on your lower back area. Now, move your body up and down or to the sides while applying the desired amount of pressure on the back.
- Feet. Our feet take a considerable load during the day. Along with that, the foot surface contains thousands of nerve endings. So, by massaging these areas, you can quickly achieve total relaxation. To do this, sit on the edge of the bed and place your one foot on the opposite knee. Use foot cream or lotion for better sliding and apply pressure in a circular motion, moving through the different areas of your sole. Or, consider investing in a massage rug with a prickly surface; thus, you will be able to have your relaxing sessions without any efforts.
“You can increase the efficacy of your massage session by taking a hot shower before it. Hot water will additionally relax muscles and improve blood flow around them. Also, you can combine a massage session with aromatherapy and use some relaxing oils, such as lavender, ylang-ylang, or jasmine.”
As you can see, all these massage techniques have one thing in common:
They eliminate stress hormones and increase the levels of sleep-friendly chemicals in your blood.
Be sure to try out this drug-free method of achieving better sleep, and your body will surely thank you for that. A massage session doesn't take long so it should be an easy adjustment to your daily routine.