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  • Writer's pictureTania Cucciniello

An in Depth Guide to Insomnia- Part 2

Updated: May 3, 2020

Can massage therapy help you sleep better?

Yes! In general, one of the many beneficial side effects massage therapy can offer is a better night's sleep. Likewise, massage therapy has many beneficial physiological effects for insomnia, such as:

  • Reduces anxiety or stress-related insomnia.

  • Enhances general mind & body relaxation which decreases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.

  • Desensitizes sensory receptors which decreases excitatory stimulation.

  • Enhances the parasympathetic nervous system such as the cardiac and respiratory functions. Massage can promote fluid cardiac and respiratory rhythms and decrease blood pressure.

  • Increases circulation of metabolic waste and toxins out of the muscles toward the liver and excretory organs, which help decrease muscular cramps and prevent R.L.S- restless leg syndrome.

  • Increases oxygen and nutrient supply back into the muscles and connective tissue.

Are there any contra-indications in massage related to insomnia?

There are no contra-indications in massage when dealing with insomnia. A massage therapist wants to aim for a relaxation massage to help stimulate the client properly. There are no limitations in the techniques you can use either- all effleurages, vibrations, jostling and percussions can be performed. If your client has R.L.S, you want to focus on draining their lower limbs because cramping in the middle of the night is a part of the reason for their insomnia. If your client complains of cold hands accompanied by a hot/restless/tingling sensation in the rest of the body then verify the forearms. Not many people know about nighttime-tension in the forearms but it is something I have come across many times in my practice and the goal is to stretch out tight muscle fibres and create space between the joints flushing out a significant degree of tension.

How to have a Good Night's Sleep!

There are lots of habits to adapt and tricks to add to your routine that can promote a good night's sleep and prevent having a dreadful insomnia-filled night. Let's get into them, shall we:

  • Try to go to sleep at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Our body has a circadian rhythm which is affected by light and darkness, so designing a sleep/wake cycle can regulate your body's master clock and develop regular sleeping patterns.

  • Try to avoid taking naps late in the day because naps make you less sleepy at night.

  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and/or alcohol late in the daytime as well. This will distance the time between these stimulants and your bed time.

  • Do not eat or exercise 2 hours prior to bed time for the same reason last-mentioned. Give your body time to relax as systems are shutting down for the night.

  • Don't eat something heavy as the last meal of the day, this may cause a stomach ache or prolong the time your metabolism is working. Try to make your dinner a light meal, your lunch a medium-sized meal and make your breakfast when you intake the most calories, which is when we need them most.

  • Do exercise regularly! Making sure you burn enough calories and enough energy during the day to avoid being wide awake and restless at night.

  • Follow a routine at night to help you relax before falling asleep. Make sure it's quiet, have dim lighting and just the right temperature in the room to set yourself a calm ambiance that you can unwind to.

  • Cut your screen time. Try 30 minutes, 1 hour, or maybe even 2 hours before bed to not look at a screen! Read a book or listen to music instead of being on your phone or watching TV as the blue light from electronic devices keeps us stimulated.

  • If you struggle with worry or anxiety and lie awake in bed often unable to turn off your thoughts, then you can try making a to-do list before you go to bed to have a clear mind. This may help you "let go" of those worries overnight.

  • Try breathing exercises! Taking deep breaths over and over will slow down your respiration, your thoughts, your adrenaline and nervous system. It will naturally give you that calm and drowsy sensation you are looking for to fall asleep peacefully. One example can be practiced is as follows: Count your inhale for 6 seconds and count your exhale for 8 seconds. Slow and steady, repeat as many times as needed.

Other Methods of Treatment

Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy uses essential oils for sleep. The oils of camomile, lavender, neroli, rose and marjoram may provide a relaxant effect. Add a few drops to your bath water, infuser or candle holder. You may also simply apply a few drops to your temples or the plantar side of your feet and lightly massage it in. In Chinese medicine, the best time to massage your feet is believed to be before bed around 7pm-9pm. (Add this to your relaxation routine mentioned above!)

Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies such as oil, incense, supplements, cloth compresses and baths are traditionally used to combat the undesirable effects of stress, sleep disturbances, apathy and chronic fatigue. Synergistic combinations of herbs offers a profound and sustainable effect against insomnia, restlessness and anxiety. Some popular herbs to help cope with insomnia include camomile, lavender, valerian root, lemon balm and even cannabis.

Does Cannabis Help Insomnia?

Similar to massage and the healing power of touch, cannabis has been used for centuries old acting as a sleeping aid. Now in modern times, legalization of marijuana has happened in many countries due to its curative effects. It is known that cannabis is used widely by a number of people to help with many dis-orders, including (and definitely not limited to) insomnia.

As you may know from the typical image of someone who is "high", they have smaller eyes and become drowsy. The drowsy effect cannabis provides is exactly what those who suffer from never sleeping are looking for. Cannabis can make you drowsy because of its sedative effects and its aromatic qualities. Cannabis also acts as a natural muscle relaxant and decreases inflammation in the body which can provide relief from cramping and leave you feeling relaxed. The benefits of cannabis are plentiful and these are just a few to say the least.

Lastly, if ever I have lost a few hours of sleep for just one night, I definitely felt affected the next day. I cannot imagine how hard it is to function without sleep everyday on a long-term basis. Therefore, due to the fact that cannabis is helping the sleep deprived and so many other illnesses, then I support it as a holistic aid. It is a natural plant from the earth that when consumed in various forms provides a long list of positive benefits, with little to no side effects, on a large number of dis-eases! Research continues to grow and to support the use of medicinal marijuana, and with a rapidly growing industry it is essential for our evolution on this matter to keep an open mind.

For more ways on how to have a good night's sleep, visit The Body Blog's Energy Healing board on Pinterest!


Photo credit: tirachardz/Freepik

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