There is nothing better than a solid night’s sleep to help you manage all the activities and stresses of your day.
But how many of us get that good night’s sleep as often as we need it?
Not enough of us, it turns out.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended amount of sleep for most adults age 26-64 is seven to nine hours, with six or 10 being appropriate for certain individuals.
About 40 percent of Americans get less than that.
Building up a major sleep debt over time will not only hamper our moods and ability to easily cope with busy schedules and stressful lives, but it can severely impair our health too.
Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss put us at increased risk for heart disease, heart attack, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. And up to 90 percent of people suffering from insomnia also report another major health condition.
A lack of sleep is often the culprit behind accidents, forgetfulness, lack of sex drive and aging skin as well (it’s true!).
But perhaps the most important reason to get a good night’s sleep is that we just feel better and can be our best selves when we’re rested. And it’s not just about getting the right amount of hours but also about getting quality sleep too.
And this quality sleep is how massage therapy can be an added boost to your healthy sleep routine.
While regular massage is a great stress-relief itself, massage has also been shown to be a major sleep enhancer, allowing the body and brain to relax enough to get the kind of quality sleep needed to rejuvenate.
Insomnia is associated with a lack of seratonin, which serves as a precursor to the body’s creation of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone released by the brain to quiet and reset the part that directs the circadian cycles to prepare the body to sleep.
A study on back pain by the Touch Research Institute showed that in addition to a decrease in long-term pain, those who received massage also had an increase in serotonin levels, resulting in improved sleep. Massage really helps you get the rest you need to function well.
This coincides with a relatively recent discovering that while the body is taking a break during sleep, it is one of the most important times for the brain to begin working.
When we are asleep, thousands of neurons jump into action, and pulse with electrical signals to provide the brain a hypnotic-like experience. At the same time, the brain sorts through all the information it gained during the day at a pace it could not handle in real time. The brain also detoxifies and checks on itself to make sure its hormones, enzymes and proteins are in balance.
So while we should do some of the obvious things to improve our sleep habits – such as regular exercise, no caffeine late in the day, reduced screen time late in the evening – we should add regular massage therapy in our schedules so our bodies and brains can get the restorative rest they need for us to be, and feel, healthier