importance of sleep in pregnancy

Iimportance of sleep in pregnancy

Massage & Sleep - Should massage be part of your bedtime routine? 

There’s no denying it - we’re a nation of poor sleepers. But making massage part of your nightly wind-down could help change all that…

Ruby Deevoy

There’s no denying it - we’re a nation of poor sleepers. Whether it’s anxiety, aches and pains, insomnia, hot flushes or having a young child, recent surveys have shown that very few of us in the U.K. are getting anywhere near enough decent shut-eye each night. 

According the the NHS, 1 in 3 of us suffer from poor sleep. A survey undertaken at the end of 2020, by Anxiety UK, revealed that of the 1200 participants, 63% were going without restorative sleep on the regular. Only 3% said they had never experienced poor sleep.

Why is quality sleep so important?

Other than leaving us feeling drowsy, irritable and unproductive throughout the day – what’s the deeper impact of missing out on the 8 solid hours we need each night?

natural sleep aid

Image by  Damir Spanic    natural sleep aid

The potential impact of poor sleep

A few sleepless nights aren’t ideal, but won’t do too much harm. However, if sleep deprivation is ongoing or begins to manifest as conditions like insomnia, you’re putting yourself at much higher risk of a multitude of issues including:
  • Brain Fog
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Depleted immunity
  • Weight gain
  • Depression & Anxiety
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Low Sex Drive

 Poor sleep and workplace accidents

In addition to these problems that may arise as a result of chronic lack of sleep and insomnia, the Sleep Foundation found that sleepy workers who get 6 hours sleep or less a night are 70% more likely to be involved in an accident. This is thought to be down to cognitive impairment, which can occur as a result of poor sleep, and affects everything from memory to reflexes.

Massage and sleep

Now we have the negative side out of the way, and we have a clear understanding of how vital proper sleep is, it’s time to start problem solving.
Sleep doesn’t have to remain a problem for you as there are many sleep solutions and natural sleep aids which can help get your circadian rhythm back on track. Today, we’re going to lay our focus on one of the oldest (and most effective!) tricks in the book: massage.

Massage and sleep

Image by Toa Heftiba.   Massage and sleep

Using massage for sleep: a natural serotonin boost 

Massage is a simple, drug-free option for inducing a restful slumber that has worked wonders for many – and might just be the answer you’ve been searching for! But how can something so non-invasive transform the inner workings of your body?

Using massage for sleep

 image by Jacqueline Munguía.     Using massage for sleep

Does massage boost serotonin? The evidence…

In a clinical trial on back pain, published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, 24 adults were treated with 30 minutes of massage therapy, twice a week for five weeks. As well as experiencing improved mobility and less pain overall, the results also showed that all participants had raised serotonin and dopamine levels.

But how does this relate to sleep? Without appropriate levels of serotonin (which can be supported by regular exercise, yoga, sunlight and supplements such as CBD oil or probiotics as well as massage) your body cannot create melatonin – a natural hormone that is produced by the pineal gland and released into the bloodstream to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. By giving your body what it needs to make melatonin, you may find that sleep starts to come more naturally.

Massage can help reduce cortisol

Another way massage can help you get a good night’s sleep is by reducing our stress hormone, cortisol.

Massage for sleep

Image by Emiliano Vittioriosi     Massage for sleep

Managing the fight or flight response

The purpose of cortisol is to set the flight or flight response into motion – providing a potent energy boost to help us escape from potential threats. This has of course always played a vital part in survival, but in modern day life that is filled with non life-threatening stressors and often, a lack of ways to release cortisol we do produce, we are left with a surplus of unnecessary stress. As a result, we may find ourselves in a constant state of stress, or in a position where we may experience extreme stress (and the related energy boost) at inappropriate moments.
As you can imagine, being poised to fight or flee is not ideal when settling down to sleep! It’s common knowledge that the stresses of daily life – be that psychological or physiological - can perturb even healthy sleep. But massage can change all that.
During a massage, our heart rate lowers, our muscles relax, the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated and releases endorphins and balancing endocannabinoids. As a result, the fight or flight response is switched off and the body is informed that it’s safe to sleep.

Massage for pain relief

A range of studies have found that sleep deprivation increases pain sensitivity, impairs conditioned pain modulation and facilitates temporal summation of pain even in healthy subjects. Fortunately, massage is a fantastic tool for relieving pain via several mechanisms including relaxing muscles, tendons, and joints; relieving stress and anxiety; and blocking pain messages to and from the brain.

 poor sleep

Image by Conscious Design     poor sleep 

Ask the expert…

Yvonne Lee, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston in an interview with arthritis.org says: “Patients often attribute sleep problems to pain. While pain can certainly contribute to sleep problems, the more we learn about sleep, pain and inflammation, the more we find the relationships are likely to be multidirectional,” 

So, if you’re struggling to sleep (or know someone else who is), why not give massage a try? And while you’re at it, enhance the experience with the Dermactiva range, designed to help you reconnect, restore and revive.

~ Dermactiva

25 years of wisdom and heritage

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