Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Get a Good Night’s Sleep with a Back Massage

Most of us could use an extra hour of sleep. Medications for insomnia can be harmful, especially for elders. A simple back massage can help relieve insomnia, and in one study back massage was shown to improve sleep quality in critically ill patients following a six-minute back rub, in combination with muscle relaxation, mental imagery, and relaxing background music.(1)

Patients who were studied slept an hour longer than the control group, and descriptive statistics showed that quality of sleep was superior in the back massage group.

Sleep is essential for good health, recovery from illness and for promoting normal metabolism. It’s easy to forget that holistic interventions can do much to promote good health and aid recovery. Studies regarding the benefits of massage are well documented. The next time you or your partner have trouble sleeping, consider a short back massage.

Remember to use oil or lotion during the massage - less lotion provides better friction and allows more pressure. You may wish to use lavender scented oil for it's proven calming benefit. Start from the lower back, and apply gentle pressure with your thumbs just beside the spine, followed by longer srokes, using your palms, again on each side of the spine. If you feel comfortable, you can try a "kneading" motion around the shoulders and lower back. Remember to ask your recipient how the massage feels. You should be able to enjoy a good night's sleep with a simple and safe back massage.

If you take blood thinners or have any health problems that might be a contraindication to massage, please speak with your doctor.

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(1) Am J Crit Care 1998 Jul; 7(4):288-99 Richards KC. University of Arkansas College of Nursing, Little Rock, USA. ◦