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Sleepless Nights

Mar 18, 2013

Can't Sleep? Serotonin and Massage Might be the Answer

Do you struggle for hours to get to sleep, no matter how tired you are? Or do you wake up in the middle of the night and lay awake for hours, watching the clock and worrying about the next day?  If so, you’re not alone.  Insomnia is a very common sleep problem.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 30% of adults in the U.S. suffer from it; and 10% experience chronic insomnia.

Insomnia comes from the Latin words for, what else…“no sleep.”  It is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, difficultly staying asleep, waking up too early, and poor quality, “non-restorative” sleep.  Chronic insomnia is when one gets poor sleep every night or most nights for more than 6 months.

Insomnia takes a huge toll on your energy, mood, and ability to function during the day.  Chronic insomnia can even contribute to long-term health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

But you don’t have to put up with insomnia.  There are a wide variety of methods recommended for treating insomnia.  Many of them involve simple lifestyle and daily habit changes such as not watching TV in bed, avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine in the evenings, and developing a relaxing bedtime routine.  Others involve a variety of medications – some over the counter; others prescriptive. 

Serotonin plays a key role in mood, body temperature, physical coordination, appetite and sleep; and therapeutic massage can work to increase serotonin levels.  A 2000 study on back pain and massage conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University Of Miami School Of Medicine demonstrated that in addition to a decrease in long-term pain, subjects receiving regular therapeutic massage also experienced an increase in serotonin levels and improved sleep.*

Therapeutic massage is a healthy and substance-free way for the sleep-deprived to increase serotonin levels.  Additionally, serotonin is a natural way to produce melatonin, which causes a drop in body temperature and positively influences sleepiness.

If you’re one of the thousands of Americans suffering from lack of sleep, simple changes to your lifestyle and daily habits can always help.  But you should also consider massage, as regular therapeutic massage sessions may prove to be a healthy, logical, safe and inexpensive way to put a stop to your sleepless nights.

 

* “Research:  Massage Eases Lower Back Pain, Increases Range of Motion”, Massage Magazine, Jan/Feb. 2002

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