By Bridget March
“An astonishingly high number of people have what would be classed as 'normal' sleep patterns, but still wake up feeling sleepy, dull and unfocused – unable to concentrate and generally feeling 'below par',” says Karolina Maciejewska, UK manager of dreamy home-massage app Soothe. “It is sleep quality, rather than duration or continuity, where the problem lies,” she explains. We simply cannot get a good night's sleep, meaning many of us experience 'non-restorative sleep' (NRS), the clinical term for problems with sleep quality in the absence of a disturbed sleep pattern.
Can massage manipulate your sleep hormones?So how does this link to massage? Well, “Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques can be prescribed to address NRS,” Maciejewska explains. “Plus research has shown that the chemistry of sleep is relevant to massage therapy because massage can directly influence the body's production of serotonin and the creation of melatonin”.
Beata Aleksandrowicz, a massage expert and the creator of the Pure Massage Spa Training Method, says that these two hormones, plus cortisol, play a vital role in our sleep patterns.
“Levels of the hormone cortisol are often elevated in people who are stressed (yes – that’s most of us) which can lead to insomnia,” she explains. “Massage helps to balance the hormonal system and it's proven that massage can reduce the level of cortisol by an average of 30 per cent.” We’ll take that.
When it comes to serotonin – our happy hormone which influences our wellbeing, appetite, memory, sexual drive and sleep – Aleksandrowicz explains that, “Whilst it needs light and exercise to thrive, studies have also shown that massage can help to boost serotonin levels up to up 28 per cent.”
In addition, melatonin, “the sleep-inducing hormone which increases with the darkness of the night,” as Aleksandrowicz puts it, can be triggered by the pressure applied during a massage.
"One hour of massage provides the body with benefits that are equivalent to a power nap”
If you wanted another excuse to book in a massage, let Maciejewska provide one. “While improving the sleep experience, simply one hour of massage provides the body with benefits that are equivalent to a power nap,” she says. Of course, while using Soothe (the Uber of massage) is one way to get one – as is employing the skills of your nearest and dearest, self-massage can be beneficial in boosting your sleep, too.