Close-up of alarm clock on night table

Sometimes, a good night’s sleep seems impossible to attain. Whether this happens because of stress, schedule changes, or chronic pain, there’s nothing quite as frustrating as watching the clock count off the hours while you lie wide awake knowing you’ll have to start the coming day without nearly enough sleep.

Feeling sluggish during the day is bad enough, but insomnia can also reduce cognitive functions while increasing depression, anxiety and problems with memory. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have declared that insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. “Sleep insufficiency [is] linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors.”

Research has shown that regular massage therapy not only reduces pain and anxiety but also increases relaxation, which can help restore your sleep pattern.

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“When you are deprived of deep sleep, certain kinds of pain chemicals are released,” explains Dr. Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. But that changes with any kind of massage, whether for insomnia or increased flexibility or greater relaxation. “There is a release of serotonin, which is the body’s natural production of anti-pain chemicals. Massage is very effective at increasing deep sleep.”

In addition, the University of Maryland Medical Center found that while massage is known to encourage relaxation for better sleep, aromatherapy massage can be even more effective. Clinical studies of patients receiving a massage with and without essential oils found that those whose massage included lavender showed a more positive reaction including improved sleep, less anxiety and stronger mental capacity.

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