When it comes to insomnia, the battle can be long and hard. Publications all over the net claim to have the next miracle cure or life hack. For those with chronic insomnia, life becomes an experiment, trying different methods out each night to find the holy grail.
One of the newest and most effective tools that insomniacs are using to combat their condition, is the use of percussion-based massage guns, such as the Pro Massage Gun. These devices, designed to relieve pain and improve recovery in the muscles, affect our central nervous system, downregulating and instilling an increased level of relaxation in the body.
When used correctly, insomniacs are seeing incredible results, with lower sleep onset (the time it takes to fall asleep), better quality deep sleep, and even higher levels of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. When these three areas of sleep reach a higherquality, the level of recovery and alertness felt the next day is dramatically improved.
Although research into the use of massage guns is still relatively new, there has been a wealth of research regarding the potential for massage to improve sleep quality.
Certain conditions can bring about the onset of insomnia. One of these is menopause in women. With the raging changes in hormones, sleep can become a lot harder to obtain. Luckily, massage can help. In two linked studies, the results are clear.
The first study evaluated the effect of massage on postmenopausal insomnia. (1) The second evaluated the effects that mindfulness practice and relaxation training has on postmenopausal insomnia. (2)
In the first study, forty-four subjects were split up into the control group and the massage therapy group. In the group receiving massage, the markers for insomnia were reduced, including sleep quality and duration.
In the second study, thirty menopausal women, all showing strong markers for insomnia and reduced sleep quality, were split into two groups. One group was given eight weeks of mindfulness and relaxation therapy, the other was not.
The results show that:
“Eight weeks mindfulness meditation training improved sleep quality, quality of life, attention levels, and reduced vasomotor symptoms in postmenopausal women with insomnia.” (2)
While the second study was not specifically related to the use of massage therapy, it has been proven that regular massage therapy can improve levels of relaxation and thus yield similar results.
Massage on Stress and Anxiety
Regular massage therapy can reduce both occupational stress and general anxiety, both of which can wreak havoc with your sleep. The worse a person's anxiety, the higher their sleep onset will be, as it keeps the body in a fight or flight state. Regular stress, such as occupational stress, can emerge in a number of different ways.
One of the worst ways in which daily stress can manifest is through an increased cortisol response. Cortisol releases in the morning with the rising of the sun, it wakes us up and is part of the complex hormone system that regulates our sleep schedule, the circadian rhythm.
The opposite hormone is melatonin, which is released when the sun sets and causes us to feel tired at the right times. Increased cortisol levels, which can happen as a result of regular stress, actively reduce our bodies ability to produce melatonin at the right time and feel sleepy before bed.
In terms of massage and anxiety, a study was conducted to measure the “Effectiveness of Therapeutic Massage for Generalized Anxiety”. In this study, 68 people with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) were split into groups. One group was given therapeutic massage therapy, one group was given relaxation room therapy and one group was given no therapy. (3)
The results were that both the therapeutic massage group and the relaxation room therapy group saw dramatic improvements in their anxiety levels. This means that both massage therapy and relaxation, which is also improved by massage, are effective tools for managing anxiety and improving sleep quality.
With regards to occupational stress (stress caused by work), massage is being touted as one of the most effective, affordable, and non-invasive ways to improve the quality of life of high-stress workers. One study, conducted on nurses who work in high-pressure, intense jobs, like ICU nurses and Dialysis nurses, shows this.
In this study, the nurses were split into two groups. One group was given a 25 minute Swedish Massage, twice a week for four weeks. The other group was not. After four weeks, the group given the massage therapy group showed a dramatic reduction in their levels of stress. (3)
Benefits for Surgery
Interestingly, massage is now commonly being used as a way to combat some of the problems that patients encounter in pre-op, before surgery. Anxiety and sleep issues the night before surgery can have noticeable effects on their recovery and success rates.
To examine this, a study was conducted to measure the effects of massage and aromatherapy the night before colorectal surgery. The results found “that aromatherapy massage with lavender oil increased the sleep quality and reduced the level of anxiety in patients with colorectal surgery in the preoperative period.”(5)
Increased sleep quality and lowered anxiety reduce inflammation. While the research is in the early stages, it could mean that pre-surgery massage therapy becomes something we see a lot more of in the future.
The world is beginning to see a shift in attitude towards pain control. For years now, opioid prescriptions have been the main route for curing chronic and serious pain conditions. While they may be effective, they have numerous horrific side effects when abused and have a high chance for addiction too.
Non-prescription pain-killing methods are becoming a lot more popular as people try to treat their pain in natural ways. Some of the most popular methods include CBD, Cannabis, Yoga, and massage therapy.
With the improvement in massage therapy technology and the introduction of at-home-use massage guns and -rollers, people can now take advantage of the effective pain relief that percussion massage can offer.
Chronic pain has a number of side effects. Insomnia is one of them. You also have an increased chance for anxiety and stress, which also increases the chance of insomnia.
While research in regards to traditional massage has been emerging for many years now, research around percussion massage is still in the early stages.
The studies that are emerging are extremely promising. One study found that regular use of percussion-based massage guns drastically reduced Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). This means that pain caused by the damage and breakdown of the muscles can be treated effectively with the use of a percussion massage gun. (6)
While much of the research relates to traditional massage, the use of percussion-based massage guns and technology is showing exceptional promise as a potential treatment for many ailments that affect sleep such as:
- Reduction in Anxiety
- Reduction in Stress
- Reduction in Chronic Pain
- Improved Levels of Relaxation
- Improved Sleep Onset
- Improved REM Sleep
- Oliveira DS, Hachul H, Goto V, Tufik S, Bittencourt LR. Effect of therapeutic massage on insomnia and climacteric symptoms in postmenopausal women. Climacteric. 2012 Feb;15(1):21-9.
- Garcia MC, Kozasa EH, Tufik S, Mello LEAM, Hachul H. The effects of mindfulness and relaxation training for insomnia (MRTI) on postmenopausal women: a pilot study. Menopause. 2018 Sep;25(9):992-1003.
- Sherman, K. J., Ludman, E. J., Cook, A. J., Hawkes, R. J., Roy-Byrne, P. P., Bentley, S., Brooks, M. Z., & Cherkin, D. C. (2010). Effectiveness of therapeutic massage for generalized anxiety disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Depression and anxiety, 27(5), 441–450.
- Nazari, F., Mirzamohamadi, M., & Yousefi, H. (2015). The effect of massage therapy on occupational stress of Intensive Care Unit nurses. Iranian journal of nursing and midwifery research, 20(4), 508–515.
- Cahide Ayik, Dilek Özden,The effects of preoperative aromatherapy massage on anxiety and sleep quality of colorectal surgery patients: A randomized controlled study, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Volume 36,2018, Pages 93-99, ISSN 0965-2299,
- Imtiyaz, S., Veqar, Z., & Shareef, M. Y. (2014). To Compare the Effect of Vibration Therapy and Massage in Prevention of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR, 8(1), 133–136.