Celebrating National Sleep Awareness Week: Top Tips for Improving Your Sleep Health

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Wake up — it’s Sleep Awareness Week! Every year, the National Sleep Foundation celebrates sleep health with a week-long campaign to raise awareness about the importance of sleep and what you can do to maintain your sleep health. Lack of sleep may already be on your mind, since we just changed the clock for Daylight Savings Time. That makes this week (March 11-17, 2018) a great time to make small lifestyle changes that can end up having outsized impacts on your sleep health. Read on to learn more about how tweaking your lifestyle can result in better sleep.

The Role of Massage Therapy in Improving Sleep Quality

Adding a regular massage to your routine has the potential to significantly increase the quality of your sleep. For one thing, massage helps you relax — and it’s not just the soothing atmosphere of the massage therapist’s office or the time you spend away from the stress of your regular life. Some studies show that the stimulation of a massage session can actually initiate the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is associated with mood. This, in turn, has been shown to lower levels of anxiety and depression, both of which are associated with trouble sleeping.

Another way that massage can improve the quality of your sleep is by helping reduce pain. These days, you can find lots of claims about what works to reduce pain at night–from over-the-counter medications to high-priced specialty pillows and mattresses–but massage is a tried-and-true way to alleviate tension and support healing. Deep tissue massage can help relax knots in your muscles and promote circulation, which can reduce pain by making sure that all of your cells and tissues are getting the oxygen and nutrients they need. Alternatively, Neuromuscular Massage Therapy (NMT) is ideal for treating specific complaints, from shoulder pain to fibromyalgia to sports injuries. Whichever modality you choose, massage can significantly help reduce the pain that might otherwise be keeping you up at night.

When you look at some of the latest clinical research in the field of sleep medicine, you’ll find studies suggesting that massage can also help improve sleep quality for specific patient populations. Consider the following:
In 2014, a study in the journal Sleep Science reported that massage therapy could reduce insomnia in postmenopausal women.
A 2013 pilot study led by a researcher at Harvard Medical School suggested that massage therapy may improve sleep quality for patients with metastatic cancer, while also reducing pain and anxiety and increasing daytime alertness.
In 2010, a group of researchers in Brazil found that massage therapy could help resolve pain, stress, anxiety, and low sleep quality in patients after cardiopulmonary artery bypass surgery.
The results of a randomized control trial published in the journal Midwifery in 2013 indicated that back massage (from a certified massage therapist) was effective for improving sleep quality in postpartum women.
In 2014, a research group from Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran reported that massage therapy had a positive effect on the sleep quality of breast cancer patients.
According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, massage therapy can help improve the quality of sleep for people with systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease.

Making Dietary Changes to Improve Your Sleep Quality

Getting a massage isn’t the only lifestyle change you can make to start improving the quality of your sleep during Sleep Awareness Week. Your diet also plays an important role in how well you sleep every night. This includes both what you eat and when you eat it. When it comes to the timing of your meals, many sleep experts recommend that you avoid large meals in the late afternoon and evening, since high volumes of carbs and protein can send your body the message that you are planning to be awake and using energy. Instead, you should power up with a larger morning meal and stick to smaller snacks and meals later in the day. You should also try to avoid eating saturated fats too close to bedtime, since they have been shown to actually disrupt the circadian rhythms that regulate your sleep-wake cycles.

If you’re looking for a nutritional supplement to help regulate your sleep-wake cycles, you may want to look for a formulation that is specifically designed to support healthy levels of the key neurotransmitters that are involved in mood regulation (and relaxation): serotonin and GABA. Taking an all-natural supplement like that provides precursors to these neurotransmitters can help make it easier for you to get to sleep every night, so you won’t find yourself relying on over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids (many of which come along with debilitating side effects).

Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness offers everything you need to take advantage of the opportunity to make lifestyle changes during Sleep Awareness Week. We offer a wide range of massage modalities that can improve your sleep quality, and our chiropractors provide nutritional counseling that can help you time your meals and snacks for optimal sleep. We also offer Relax Complete, a supplement that can support healthy sleep. Contact us today to learn more!

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