In this article, we pulled in a lot of interesting information about the interaction between massage and sleep. What kind of massage should you go for if you struggle with insomnia? Do people often fall asleep during the massage? How does a massage bed work?
What kind of massage can help with insomnia?
Massage relaxes you and promotes the release of serotonin, so any kind of massage will be helpful. Serotonin helps to produce melotonin which in turn influences your sleep cycle. It’s even possible to massage a dog to sleep. Us, humans, are not that different.
We’ve had clients who booked outcalls because part of the pleasure was not having to travel afterwards – they could just wrap themselves in a duvet and nod off. These were not men who struggled with insomnia but post-massage sleep is beneficial to all. If you want to go more specialised, you could search for a therapist offering ‘sleep massage’ (usually this includes more focus on your head and face, along with your back).
Another option is to perform a quick self-massage before bed. There are a lot of useful resources online, just search for ‘insomnia self massage’ or keep reading this article for more information.
I’ve heard that massage can replace sleep. Is it true?
The reason you’ve heard this is because it is sometimes said that a full body massage is equivalent to 7-8 hours of sleep. What it means is that it’s equivalent in terms of muscle rest and relaxation (and that claim is somewhat dubious). This makes a massage helpful if you’ve had a sleep deficit and as a result your whole body feels creaky/tense, or if you haven’t been sleeping well. But you still need to sleep! During sleep your body ‘shuts down’ and many processes take place that cannot be replaced by massage. So unless you take a 7-8 hour nap on a massage table, you still need your night’s rest.
Should I fall asleep during a massage?
It’s everyone’s personal choice, but I’d choose not to. Why? Falling asleep is always a great compliment to the masseur because it shows that you’re relaxed and comfortable. But if you have paid for a massage session, you might want to be present and awake for your massage. After all, the benefits of a massage are not only physical, but also mental. It’s a wonderful, luxurious feeling to have those hands working out your stress knots. If you like a nap during the massage, by all means – go ahead! But if you want to have your cake and eat it, book an outcall to your home or hotel and ask your masseur to tuck you in before he leaves :)
Another thing to consider is what you’re like when you wake from sleep. Some people take awhile to wake up and feel disoriented in the beginning. Someone like that could feel confused and possibly worried if they woke up on a massage table in a place they don’t recognise.
Any massage session (especially if it’s sensual massage) involves matters of consent. When you’re being touched, you are aware of it and agree to it. If, however, you don’t want certain parts of your body touched, you tell this to your masseur and he obliges. However, it becomes more complicated if you fall asleep, because the masseur might be unsure as to whether you’re happy to continue with the massage. You cannot give/withdraw consent if you’re not aware what’s going on.
How can I self-massage for better sleep?
Any type of self-massage will promote better sleep. You can use your hands, a tennis ball or a dedicated massage tool. I know a guy who bought an acupressure mat for self-massage (the mat had stiff rubber spikes) but kept falling asleep on it. To step your self-massage up a bit, you can stimulate five pressure points that are said to help with insomnia. Alternatively, just concentrate your massage on hands, feet, wrists, face and the back of your neck.
To enhance the sleep-inducing properties of your self-massage, use aromatherapy. Just mix a few drops of your favourite essential oil into your massage oil. Camomile, lavender or valerian would work well (for the base, you can even use simple sunflower oil). Or, for some beautiful florals, go with Ylang Ylang. In Indonesia, there’s a tradition of putting these fragrant flowers on the bed of newlyweds on their wedding night. Newlyweds might not get much sleep (you’d hope!), but ylang ylang oil does have relaxing properties.
How does a massage bed work and should I get one?
Often people think that a massage bed is just a regular bed with a massage function, but that’s not usually the case. Most massage beds resemble a chaise-longue and are used for massage only. You select the desired settings and lie down, and the bed operates for the selected amount of time. Some beds come with a heating element. A good massage bed is usually quite expensive and takes up a lot of space, so you have to ask yourself whether you really need one. If it’s something you’d like to use every time you return home from work, it’s definitely a worthy investment. However, if a massage is only an occasional luxury for you, such a purchase might not be worth it.
At a much higher cost, you can even buy a regular bed with the massage feature. Opinions are divided on whether these are worth top dollar. If you have a car with an inbuilt massage feature in the seat, you’ll know what I mean. It’s pleasant and somewhat relaxing, but hardly ‘the works’. I guess the creators of massage beds have to negotiate a tricky boundary: on the one hand, they want to give you as ‘deep’ a massage as possible; on the other – they cannot risk causing an injury (by accidentally ‘working’ on your spine, for example). So while massage beds can give you a better night’s sleep, they probably won’t be able to undo serious stress knots.