There are an estimated 40 million people in the U.S. who suffer from some type of chronic sleep disorder (source). Lack of sleep can suppress your immune system, impair memory/cognitive function, promote weight gain, and disturb your body’s normal hormonal balance.
Many people who suffer from chronic sleep disorders resort to medication sleep aids to help them fall asleep and stay asleep at night. While these medications may initially help, their effectiveness begins to diminish over time as you build a tolerance. Sleeping pills can come with potentially serious side effects like stomach bleeding and kidney failure.
Rather than rolling the dice and hoping that medication sleep aids allow you to get a better night’s sleep, you should consider seeking massage therapy. It may sound somewhat unusual, but massage therapy has been shown to improve the quality of sleep in both men and women.
Massage works to relieve muscle tension as well as stress and anxiety, which in turn helps you fall asleep and stay asleep at night. A professional massage therapist will identify problematic areas of tension within your muscles and tissue and use manual manipulation techniques to relieve it. By releasing this tension, you’ll feel more relaxed – and when you’re relaxed, you’ll have an easier time sleeping at night.
Massage therapy also promotes better sleep thanks to its positive effects on the body’s hormones. When you receive a massage, your body produces more “happy” hormones like oxytocin and serotonin. These hormones have been associated with the phenomenon known as a Runner’s High, leaving you feeling content and happy.
Researchers recently conducted a study to determine the effects of massage therapy on sleep quality in coronary artery bypass graft patients. Patients who undergo this type of surgery often have trouble sleeping, in addition to pain and stress. For the study, researchers closely monitored the sleep habits of 57 patients, roughly half of whom were given massage therapy. At the end of the study, researchers found that all patients in the massage therapy group (not the control group) had reported better sleep quality and less daily fatigue.
“Massage therapy is an effective technique for improving patient recovery from cardiopulmonary artery bypass graft surgery because it reduces fatigue and improves sleep,” wrote the study’s authors.
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