- Karen Stoner, LMT
Massage Tips and Trivia: Massage can help mood & Sleep
"Massage can help improve your mood and help you sleep better"
We all know that massage can help you relax and reduce stress. But did you know that massage can also help improve your actual mood? When we are in a bad or stressful situation that puts us in a bad mood, our bodies secrete hormones such as cortisol (the stress hormone), and epinephrine & norepinephrine (the "fight-or-flight" hormones). These hormones are designed to get our bodies through the situation we are in, however if we don't properly distance ourself from the thing causing us stress, or if the situation is ongoing, it can take a long time for our bodies to get rid of these hormones and they aren't designed to stick around for long periods of time - they are meant for a quick burst and be done, but if they linger, it can cause trouble for our internal organs, as well as our moods by making us more anxious, angry, stressed, and tired - all of which ultimately can lead to us being grouchy, depressed, and generally put us in a bad mood. Now, endorphins are the body's natural painkillers, and dopamine is the body's "pleasure" hormone - it makes you feel good. Both of these are released during massage which can act as counter-hormones to the stress hormones. So not only can massage help increase your circulation, which in turn helps flush out the nasty "bad" hormones, it helps stimulate production of the "good" hormones so it ultimately can put you in a better mood.
Especially when people are stressed or just not feeling great, it can be hard to get a good night's sleep. Once again, it is the influx of those stress hormones that keep us in "fight or flight" mode and make it difficult to shut down your mind, relax your body, and get a good night's sleep. Massage can help here as well. Not only does the massage release endorphins and dopamine, but it also releases serotonin, which is the primary hormone that helps you sleep. A running joke in the massage community is "we know we're doing our jobs right when there is snoring coming from our table." A calm and gentle massage can release all of those good hormones to help you stay calm, but it can also help clear your mind, relax your body, and put your body into the right state to be able to fall asleep, even if it will be hours after your massage is over.