A massage by a registered therapist is a natural remedy for sleeplessness and insomnia (depending on the reason you can’t sleep). These six tips on how to relax when you’re getting a massage will help you get better sleep.
“Massage used to be considered an unnecessary luxury,” writes Larry Costa in Massage: Mind and Body. “Today, it is valued as one of the most effective methods of combating stress and inducing relaxation, but also for its many other physical and mental benefits, including expelling toxins, relieving muscle soreness, increasing flexibility, easing chronic pain, reducing tension headaches, boosting the immune system, promoting restful sleep, and improving concentration.”
You don’t necessarily need to go to a massage therapist to sleep better – researchers are studying how self-administered shiatsu works as a sleep treatment for patients with chronic pain. The traditional Japanese massage practice called shiatsu is a potential treatment to help patients with chronic pain find slumber – and stay asleep.
More study is needed, especially since there’s a difference between people with pain passively going to a therapist versus taking control of their sleep problem in the form of self-administering hand shiatsu. Self-massage for sleep requires more mental effort and concentration because our minds cannot focus on two demands at one time.
6 Tips for Relaxing When You’re Getting Massaged
If you’re getting a massage to help you sleep better, you might find the relaxation techniques in 10 Natural Sleep Remedies to Help You Fall Asleep Fast helpful.
Remember that you’re not the first, and you won’t be the last
Do you feel uncomfortable when getting a professional massage from a registered massage therapist? If so, you’re not alone. I couldn’t really relax until my fifth or sixth massage. I still feel a bit awkward sometimes, especially when I remember I forgot to shave my legs! But I keep telling myself I’m not the first body she’s ever massaged. And, my body is no worse or better than any other body…she’s seen it all.
Don’t talk during the massage
This is a tough tip for me – but it’s one of the most relaxing ones! When I talk to my massage therapist, my mind is all over the place. I’m thinking, planning, remembering, and focusing on our conversation. That does not make the massage relaxing, nor does it help me sleep later. I’d much rather be silent, completely quiet, when I’m getting a massage. If your massage therapist is a talker and you feel awkward asking her to be quiet, get a new massage practitioner. Talking isn’t relaxing (unless perhaps you’re an extrovert!).
Keep your eyes closed
When your eyes are open, you’re more likely to be distracted. Your eye movements keep you alert and focused on what’s happening in the room – not on the therapeutic touch of the massage of therapist. This is a relaxation technique for sleep, meditation and yoga, too.
Focus on your breathing
One of the best ways to relax during a massage for sleep is to focus on the in and out of your breathing. Take deep breaths in – in fact, stop and take a deep breath right now! See how good it feels? Doesn’t it relax you, make you feel calmer and less stressed? When you’re getting a massage focus on breathing in and out. Notice the rhythm of your breath, what it sounds like, what it feels like to fill your lungs with air.
Repeat a mantra, affirmation, or prayer
The first few times I went to my massage therapist, I repeated the words “freedom” and “forgiveness” to myself, over and over. It distracted me from thinking (and thinking is what makes one feel awkward while getting a massage). This relaxation tip requires a bit of advance preparation. That is, you should set your mantra or affirmation prior to getting the massage – and avoid the stress of having to think one up while you’re trying to relax.
Wear wireless headphones
One of the best ways to relax during a massage is to wear wireless headphones or earbuds. This way, you don’t feel the need to make conversation – which I always do – and you won’t feel weird about the silence between you and the registered massage therapist. And, you can listen to what you want!
Getting a full-body massage from a registered massage therapist is one of the healthiest things you can do for your mind, body, and soul. Massage for sleep feels great, too. But if you can’t relax during the massage, then it may not be as effective. So, take lots of deep breaths, and enjoy the touch of a professional, registered massage therapist.
If you don’t think you can relax while getting massaged by a therapist, read The Book of Massage: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Eastern and Western Technique. It’s a comprehensive guide with step-by-step instructions. If you can’t afford a professional massage (I pay $90 an hour, but it’s worth it), get a book on massage. You don’t need a partner to give and receive relaxing, effective massages – you can exchange massages your sister, friend, or parent.
What prevents you from relaxing during a massage?
This is how I relax: I remind myself how effective massage is for sleep and curing common health ailments. Research proves that massage can prevent illness and improve the immune system…and it feels great! I always have to remind myself to relax during a massage – and the more massages I get, the easier it is to relax.
Do you have any relaxation tips or ideas about massage for sleep? What works for you? I welcome your comments below…