Go ahead and book that deep shiatsu session. Indulging in a massage at the end of a tough week isn’t just a nice way to wind down—it’s also been shown to improve sleep, according to numerous studies. Surprising? Maybe not, considering that baby massage is one of the first techniques used to help infants sleep. But what you may be amazed by is just how beneficial a little R&R on the massage table can be for your sleep.
If you’re kept up at night worrying about financial problems, a rocky relationship, or other stressful issues, a massage may be the key to sounder sleep. Regular massage sessions have been found to decrease depression and anxiety levels and improve sleep quality, perhaps because they trigger the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that can help you feel calm.The technique has been found to benefit children and adolescents, as well.
Not only can a body rub bring stress levels down, but it may also help ease pain. In fact, people with low back pain who had 30-minute massage sessions twice a week for five weeks reported a decrease in pain and fewer sleep disturbances. This may be due to the fact that massage encourages more time spent in the deep, restorative stages of sleep, where your body hardly moves.
If professional massage sessions aren’t feasible, there are alternatives. Massage chairs and pillows are one option, but the most cost-effective method is to recruit your partner as your massage therapist. Win him or her over with this fact: A gentle, three-minute back rub could help you log more than 35 minutes of extra sleep. You can even offer one in return. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated—after all, you don’t want your partner to do anything that might accidentally cause pain, since he or she is not a trained professional. So keep it simple. Lie on your side or stomach and ask your significant other to make slow, circular motions with his or her fingertips, starting at the base of your spine and working up. You’ll be out like a light in no time.