It’s simple; when we’re relaxed we sleep better. But, getting relaxed isn’t always that easy. Sleep is our body’s natural way, and very effective way, of healing and restoring it’s self. When we are in balance our body can easily transition from alertness to restfulness. For many people this very balance is hard to maintain. It is within this very balancing act that massage therapy can be an effective tool to getting your body, and life, back on track. Not only does it help you relax better in the moment, its effects are long lasting, seeing you through to a restful nights sleep.
We are incredibly adaptable things. When life’s daily routines ask us to constantly be alert and ready for action, like in traffic, at the office or with the family, we have the ability to keep the “alert” switch on far longer than is really good for us, over-riding our need to rest. This is our sympathetic nervous system, or “flight or fight” response and it can easily become our daily norm if we never really get the chance to relax. Stress takes it’s toll, raising our blood pressure levels, which strains our cardiovascular system. Over production of hormones that enable us to stay alert, like cortisol and adrenalin, affect our immunity and digestion. A frazzled mind reacting to a physically stressed body can spin and spin long after the head has hit the pillow, keeping our breaths short and muscles tense. Simply put our bodies support our demands so well that we can get ourselves trapped in the chronic stress and fatigue cycle.
This is where massage comes in and more specifically massage focused on relaxation, giving the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), our “rest and digest” switch, the chance to turn on. An LMT will work to engage your PNS with various techniques. Long compressions encourage muscles to release, sending signals of less physical tension and encouraging blood flow. Seamless and connective strokes toward the heart increase circulation, lowering blood pressure and ultimately lead waste and toxins out of the body. Deep breathing calms the mind and oxygenates our blood promoting a sense of calm. All of these micro shifts in the body eventually lead your PNS to become engaged, resulting in things like decreased heart rate, stimulation of digestion and a general sense of well being. These shifts carry through long after your session. A cascading effect of relaxation simply begins on the table. Our body’s already know how to rest. When we give ourselves the opportunity and the space to unwind it doesn’t take long for our bodies to adapt, interrupting the chronic fatigue cycle, and finally allowing you to sleep better. If your curious about massage here at VWS give us a call! In the mean time here are some tips in engaging your PNS through out the day.
- When you wake up first thing, lie in bed for a moment and take 3 deep breaths, at the top of your inhale pause and slowly exhale completely. This subtle movement activates your lymphatic system supporting your immunity and detoxifying the body, not to mention settles the mind.
- If work is stationary give your body the chance to move a little. Take breaks like when your on the way to the restroom to check in with your shoulders, are they up to your ears? Shake them out and gently stretch your neck. Before you sit back down do a forward fold or maybe some side bends. This keeps the blood moving and your gives your mind a chance to relax for a moment.
- Before bed find a restful position on the floor (or bed). I personally love childs pose, kneeling on the floor, torso folded over the thighs, with forehead resting on the floor, arms gently outstretched above the head and hands resting on the floor. This kind of folding of the body encourages the PNS to engage, promoting a better nights rest.
Krystal & The VWS Team.