Massage Therapy For Insomnia: Does it Help You Sleep?

by Jacky Edstrom - Registered Massage Therapist

Sleep Disorders and Insomnia

Sleep disorders are a group of conditions that affect a person’s ability to get enough restful sleep. They can have a significant impact on physical and mental health, as well as a person’s quality of life. Insomnia is one of the most common types of sleep disorder, characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep, resulting in unrefreshing and inadequate sleep.

Sleep disorders and insomnia can be caused by a number of different factors. These include lifestyle behaviours such as caffeine and alcohol consumption, stress and anxiety, medical conditions such as asthma or depression, or even a side effect of medication. Fortunately, massage therapy can be used to help improve sleep disorders and insomnia.

Benefits of Massage for Insomnia

Massage can be an effective treatment for sleep disorders and insomnia, as it has been shown to reduce stress and improve overall relaxation. Massage therapy helps increase levels of endorphins— chemicals in the brain that promote feelings of happiness and relaxation, which can improve mood and reduce the symptoms of insomnia. It also increases levels of melatonin— a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles, which can help improve the body’s ability to fall asleep. Additionally, massage has been shown to reduce pain and tension in muscles, which can also promote better sleep quality.

Regular massage sessions are an important part of a comprehensive treatment plan for those suffering from sleep disorders or insomnia. In addition to regular massage therapy, there are other treatments that can be used, such as aromatherapy, acupuncture, and yoga.

Tips for Getting a Better Sleep Through Massage Therapy

  1. Choose the right massage therapist and determine what type of massage best suits your needs. Some massages such as Swedish massage or Reflexology will promote relaxation while other massages such as a deep tissue massage will stimulate the muscles.
  2. Have open communication with your therapist. Be sure to tell your therapist if anything is too painful or uncomfortable, if the music is too loud, or if the room is too cold. All of these elements can be factors in how well you relax during the massage.
  3. Listen to your body and try to stay relaxed throughout the session. If your mind starts to wander, take some deep breaths and focus on the sensations of the massage.
  4. In addition to massage, try to practice relaxation techniques before bed such as yoga, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation. This can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
  5. Make sure to drink plenty of water after your massage, as this will help flush toxins from the body and keep your hormones level. Also, limit caffeine intake during the day.
  6. Try incorporating aromatherapy into your massage therapy sessions to help promote relaxation and restful sleep.
  7. Keep up with regular massages, either from a therapist or at home. This will help reduce stress levels and encourage better sleep over time.
  8. Avoiding screens close to bedtime. Instead, keep your room quiet with dim lighting and practice self-massage before falling asleep.

Massage Techniques for Insomnia

Massage can be a great way to help relax and unwind before bedtime, allowing you to get the restful sleep that your body needs. There are many at-home massage techniques that can be used to help improve insomnia and other sleep disorders. The first thing that you should do is make sure that you are in a comfortable position. Many people find lying on their back or side to be the most comfortable. Then, try one of these self-massages:

Head Massage

A head massage is a great way to help relax and unwind before bedtime, as it can help reduce stress and anxiety, while also increasing circulation and promoting relaxation. Head massages can be done both with your hands or with the help of tools like a scalp massager, which is designed to stimulate the scalp and release built-up tension. Here are some head massage techniques you can use before sleep.

  • Using your fingertips, gently massage the scalp in small circular motions for a Circular scalp massage.
  • Use moderate-to-firm pressure to apply deep finger presses around the crown of your head and temples.
  • Gently roll your head from side to side to help relax muscles in the neck and shoulders.
  • Begin at the base of your skull and work up with a massaging motion using both hands together working in an alternating pattern across each section of hair on top of your head as you move up towards the forehead area.
  • Massage along the entire length of your forehead, from temple to temple, using gentle but firm strokes with two or three fingers for about 1 minute per session.

Face Massage

Before bed, a soothing face massage can do wonders for your body’s relaxation and will help ensure you get a restful sleep. Here are some helpful ways to do a face massage.

  • Gently hold the cheeks and stroke from the chin to the ears in long, slow strokes for about 1 minute or until your skin starts to heat up.
  • Using your thumb and index finger, gently massage along both sides of the jawbone, starting at the chin and working up towards the earlobes for about 1 minute.
  • Using your fingertips, gently make small circular strokes along the forehead for about 1 minute or until your skin starts to heat up.
  • Massage the area just under the eyes with slow and gentle pressure for about 1 minute.
  • Finally, finish by stroking from the nose towards the ears in gentle, long strokes for about 1 minute.

Foot Massage

Foot massage is another great way to help induce relaxation and restful sleep. Feet are often neglected, and massaging them can help to relax the body as well as improve circulation. Here are some helpful foot massage techniques you can use before bed.

  • Start by using your thumbs to massage the ball and arch of each foot in small circular motions for about 1 minute.
  • Gently press along the length of each toe, starting at the base of the big toe and working your way down toward the pinky toe.
  • Using both hands, gently rub up and down each foot in a kneading motion for about 1 minute.
  • Finally, end the massage with long strokes from the heel to the toes for about 1 minute or until your skin starts to heat up.

Neck and Shoulder Massage

Gently kneading your neck and shoulders with the tips of your fingers can help to reduce tension in these areas. Here are some great ways to release tension in your neck before falling asleep.

  • Using your fingertips, gently knead around the base of your neck and shoulder area in small circular motions for about 1 minute.
  • Gently press on the pressure points that run along either side of the spine, working up towards the neck, shoulders, and head.
  • Finish by making long strokes from the top of the shoulders to just below the collarbones.

We hope that these techniques have given you some insight into how to use massage for relaxation and restful sleep before bed. Whether it’s a head, face, foot, or neck massage – each one can provide different benefits and help reduce stress in its own unique way. So next time you’re feeling stressed out or anxious before going to bed, give yourself some extra self-care with a soothing massage. Taking the time to relax your body will help promote better sleep quality so that you wake up feeling refreshed and energized every morning.

About the author

Jacky Edstrom
Jacky Edstrom
Jacky Edstrom is an experienced registered massage therapist based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. With a combination of general Swedish massage, fascial techniques, pin and stretch, joint mobilizations, and trigger point release, Jacky offers tailored treatments to address a variety of orthopedic and systemic conditions. She specializes in providing relief from migraines, headaches, overuse injuries, and acute and chronic conditions. With her patient-centred approach, Jacky's goal is to increase the well-being of her clients by restoring balance, enhancing joint function, and preventing injury.

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