It’s common knowledge that one should get eight hours of sleep each night. A 2006 study has shown that people often underestimate the amount of sleep they are actually getting. The data shows that although the subjects stayed in bed for roughly eight hours, the amount of quality sleep they reported averaged six hours or less. At first glance, this might not seem like a serious issue, but over time, the cumulative effects of poor sleep can take a toll on health and productivity. Sleep deprivation can negatively affect concentration and problem solving skills, increase the likelihood of developing conditions such as obesity and diabetes, and it even increases the chances of having a motor vehicle accident.
There are several types of sleep disorders, the most common being sleep apnea and insomnia. Insomnia is a condition that affects millions of Americans and is categorized by the inability to fall asleep or remain sleeping throughout the night. It can be a short term problem, but there are many examples of prolonged insomnia, some cases lasting for months and years. Sleep apnea is a potentially life threatening disorder in which breathing stops for 10 – 30 seconds per episode. On average, someone who suffers from sleep apnea experiences 300 or more episodes each night. Sleep patterns can also be interrupted by pain, increased stress, change in diet or schedule, excess caffeine consumption, aging, depression and conditions such as osteoarthritis and restless leg syndrome.
There are several over the counter and prescription sleep aids on the market, but many carry a risk of dependency and all have the potential of causing morning grogginess. There is increasing evidence that massage can effectively treat the root causes of many types of sleep disorders. Massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the system that deals with the body’s conservation and replenishment of energy. Heart rate and blood pressure are reduced while aiding digestion and nutrient absorption. These are all key factors affecting the quality of sleep. The most prevalent root cause of sleep disorders is stress and massage therapy has been proven to be very effective in reducing stress and anxiety.