How’s your sleep? Do have trouble falling asleep? Do you have trouble staying asleep? If so, you may be one of thousands of people who currently suffer from insomnia. This is an annoying affliction that sees sufferers deprived of valuable sleep needed to maintain well being and optimal functioning. There are many ways to approach insomnia that have been well documented ranging from over the counter medications; probably best to steer clear of those as these are proving harmful over the longer term, herbal medicines; most of these are effective but again don’t always work for everyone, lighting devices; these are effective for many but are costly, and the list goes on.
Massage therapy has been proven to increase sleep quality and improve insomnia symptoms according to research. Researchers determined the effects of (1) a back massage and (2) combined muscle relaxation, mental imagery, and a music audiotape on the sleep of older men with a cardiovascular illness who were hospitalized in a critical care unit.
Sixty-nine subjects were randomly assigned to a 6-minute back massage (n=24); a teaching session on relaxation and a 7.5-minute audiotape at bedtime consisting of muscle relaxation, mental imagery, and relaxing background music (n=28); or the usual nursing care (controls, n=17). Polysomnography was used to measure 1 night of sleep for each patients. Sleep efficiency index was the primary variable of interest. One-way analysis of variance was used to test for difference in the index among the 3 groups.
Descriptive statistics showed improved quality of sleep among the back-massage group. Initial analysis showed a significant difference among the 3 groups in sleep efficiency index. Post hoc testing with the Duncan procedure indicated a significant difference between the back-massage group and the control group; patients in the back-massage group slept more than 1 hour long than patients in the control group. However, the variance was significantly different among the 3 groups, and reanalysis of data with only 17 subjects in each group revealed no difference among groups.
The report concluded that back massage is useful for promoting sleep in critically ill older men. It is interesting also that acupressure has similar results in the elderly and in the young. Now you don’t need to be old and ill to benefit from these findings, anyone it seems may find benefit in utilizing regular massage therapy sessions to help overcome insomnia. So next time you experience this, instead of rushing off to get some pills, try some massage therapy!
Have a great day!
Craig Hitchens – MST & Natural Health Specialist
Am J Crit Care 1998 Jul;7(4):288-99 Richards KC. University of Arkansas College of Nursing, Little Rock, USA.
Publication Types:Br J Anaesth 1999 Mar;82(3):387-90, Department of Nursing, National Taipei Nursing College, Taiwan. Chen ML, Lin LC, Wu SC, Lin JG
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