Please welcome our guest blog author, Samantha Kent, from SleepHelp.org
Sleep is one of the most fundamental of human needs, yet nearly 28 to 44 percent of adults report getting less than seven hours per night. At less than seven hours, the body begins to change how it metabolizes food, heals muscles, and processes emotions. Reflexology has been and can be successfully used to reduce common sleep disruptors like stress and anxiety to support a better night’s rest.
Factors that Disturb Sleep
The causes of sleep problems vary from person to person, but one of the most prevalent is stress and anxiety. Stress and sleep form a cyclical relationship wherein stress makes it difficult to sleep, and lack of sleep increases stress. A sleep-deprived brain over responds to negative stimuli because of changes in the emotional processing center as well as the logic and reasoning portions of the brain. These changes cause stress to increase, which then continues sleep deprivation and on the cycle goes.
Stress, of course, can be caused and accompanied by other sleep disruptors too. Chronic pain, sleep disorders, and other medical conditions can also lie at the heart of both stress and sleep loss. However, reflexology can be used to reduce some of the issues behind poor sleep.
Reducing Sleep Disruptors with Reflexology
Reflexology involves applying targeted pressure to specific points on the feet, hands, and occasionally other areas of the body. When it comes to sleep, it can be used to put a stopper in the stress-sleep deprivation cycle.
A 2015 study published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies found hand reflexology applied during a procedure reduced patient stress and pain perception. Patients who chose reflexology reported a mean score of 3.24 on a pain scale with a maximum score of 10 while those who were not treated with reflexology had an average score of 5.
Another study found that reflexology can reduce stress and anxiety in postmenopausal women. This particular study compared standard massage to reflexology, finding that both can be helpful. However, scientists have found via Doppler sonography that pressure points in the feet can affect blood flow in certain organs, giving it the ability to target pain or trouble areas in ways massage cannot.
A Lifestyle that Supports Sleep
Whether it’s specific pain points or stress that’s keeping you awake, reflexology may have the ability to hone in on your problem areas. For the full benefits of reflexology, you’ll also need to develop a lifestyle that supports healthy sleep.
For example, if you’re struggling with chronic pain or roving aches and pains, your mattress could be at fault. You may benefit from a model that supports your weight and preferred sleep style—front, back, or side. Your bedroom should be conducive to sleep, which means dark, cool, and quiet.
You can also develop habits that help the body follow and strengthen the sleep cycle such as:
- A Consistent Nighttime and Morning Schedule: Your body strives to adjust and accommodate your preferred schedule. However, you have to keep a schedule for it to fully respond. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to encourage deeper, longer sleep.
- Nightly Routine: A routine trains your brain to release sleep hormones. Develop a routine that relaxes your mind and body then follow it every day.
- Reduce Screen Time: Whether it’s scrolling through social media or sending work email, screen time can end up suppressing sleep hormones. Not only that, the content that you watch or read on the screen can increase stress and anxiety.
Good sleep habits and reflexology can help you overcome many sleep problems.
Are pain points keeping you awake?
Is stress overtaking your life?
Where can you use reflexology and better sleep habits to improve your quality of life?
Samantha Kent is a researcher for SleepHelp.org. Her favorite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face.