By Kat Farber, LMT, BCMT, CA
Sleep quality is an imperative function for our health and wellness. One that we often overlook or take for granted until we are denied it. Its significance can be underestimated; seen as “inefficient.” In a culture of multi-tasking, we do not consider the dreaming and internal body functions that occur during sleep to be important enough to warrant our effort and respect. We even demean sleep to being an “inefficient” use of time, while attempting to minimize it to its smallest impact possible. Research shows us that sleep deprivation and fragmentation can have serious impacts on our overall health including short term memory, reaction time, and degraded mood. (Bonnett, 2003)
Massage therapy has been proven to increase sleep quality in many different populations, including severely ill, children, and adults. While I’m sure we would all love to have a personal massage therapist come to our homes and massage us to sleep each evening, a more realistic opportunity exists for everyone to learn some basic self-massage care techniques.
Do not let yourself be intimidated. Self-massage is a simple technique. There are many small things you can be doing for yourself regularly. For all of these tips, turn off and avoid other distractions. Allow yourself to relax. One of the reasons you enjoy a professional massage is because it gives you time and space away from the rest of the world. Designate such a space for yourself at home. Here are a few suggestions.
Massage your own hands. Use a favorite hand cream and rub each finger individually. Then massage your palm using the thumb of your opposite hand to press and move in a circle. Then move your thumb and repeat over the space of your palm. If you find a spot that feels especially good to press on, hold your thumb there and allow it to slowly sink in; rather than just “digging” at it. Allow your fingers to relax while doing this rather than holding them stiff.
In your next step, gently rest and rub your first two fingertips to your temples. Press and then stretch the skin backwards towards your scalp. Continue for a few moments as feels good.
Then, rub in gentle circles around your ears. Followed by pulling gently on your ears; first at the top of your ear in an upward direction. Then grasp the outside edge of your ear and pull backwards. Next, grasp your ear loop and pull downward. Repeat as desired.
Next, rub your hands together vigorously warming them. Then place your hands against your face. Let your chin rest in your hands for just a moment. Repeat as desired. For an added relaxation effect, add 2 drops of lavender (lavendula angustifolia) to the palms of your hands before rubbing them together, and breathe deep while resting. Be cautious not to get the essential oil in your eyes.
To finish, allow yourself to take a few slow, deep breaths. Try to prevent yourself from being distracted by electronics or other stresses before then going to bed. Let yourself rest. And sleep well.
About the Author: Kat Farber, LMT, BCMT, CA
Kat Farber, LMT, BCMT, a certified aromatherapist, has a clinical massage private practice in Memphis, TN focusing oncology massage, auto-immune disorders, and pain management. Please feel free to contact her with any questions. Her website is www.SailleHealingPath.com.
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