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Can massage help you sleep better?

It’s National Sleep Awareness Week, friends! No coincidence that it coincides with the change to Daylight Savings.

Sleep is no joke. Sleep deprivation is an epidemic deeply intertwined with some of the most devastating illnesses affecting affluent Western populations today: including diabetes, obesity, various cancers, and dementia and Alzheimers. People regularly experiencing sleep deprivation have a shorter life expectancy than those who are well rested.

We hope to spend some time this week sharing some of our favorite sleep tips.

First up: Can massage help you sleep better?

Yes! Massage can help you sleep better. While so many of our clients schedule their appointment with physical pain as the motivator, I’ve come to realize that the most profound effect my massage work has on my clients is chemical (which in turn can also affect those aches and pains).

Massage (and so many types of good human touch, including cuddling, hugging, as well as more intimate touch) feels good because it elicits a biochemical response in our bodies. Positive touch triggers the release of the both Serotonin and Oxytocin, followed by endorphins — a feel good, neurotransmitter party! These hormones are the hallmark of a parasympathetic response. This is your rest, digest and relax state, as opposed to your sympathetic response which is the more well known fight, flight or freeze state.  Elevated stress hormones absolutely interfere with your ability to maintain the quality and quantity of sleep you need to feel and be well. Regular time in a parasympathetic state promotes deeper relaxation and slumber.

One 2007 study investigating how massage therapy can benefit people with lower back pain and sleep disturbances found that the massage therapy group experienced less pain, depression, anxiety and sleep disturbance when compared to the group using only relaxation therapy.

Wanna know more?

I am loving Shawn Stevenson’s Sleep Smarter with an entire chapter on bodywork as an important life hack for better sleep (Chapter 19!). Check out his podcasts with tons of strategies for sleeping better, particularly these two focused on massage:

Ready to get your massage? Book a session today!

Can’t get in? Be sure to get some good touch at home — give and receive massage with your loved ones. Snuggle up with your pets (mammals, preferably). Twenty minutes! Try it!

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