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Insomnia and reflexology

Updated: May 15, 2023

Why do we need sleep and what reflexology points need to be worked?

For this newsletter I wanted to focus on sleep or for some of you the lack of it! For anyone who has ever suffered from a lack of sleep you will know how debilitating it can be and how it can affect all aspects of your life. So let’s have a look at insomnia in greater detail and then focus on what reflexes are worked during your reflexology treatment.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia can cause issues getting to sleep or staying asleep. There are some different types.

· Acute Insomnia is a brief episode of sleep issues, lasting no longer than three months. This is usually due to life circumstances and resolves with no treatment. It occurs in 15-25% of people. An example may be difficulty falling asleep due to stress or feeling nervous about the following day.

· Chronic insomnia is classified when a person has disrupted sleep at least three times a week, lasting over three months. Approximately 10% of people have chronic insomnia. This type of insomnia can have multiple causes and the sufferer often benefits from some form of treatment.

· Cormorbid insomnia occurs with another condition such as anxiety or depression. Both of these conditions are known to cause sleep disturbances. Medical conditions can also make sleeping uncomfortable, for example arthritis can cause pain making it hard to fall asleep and breakthrough pain can cause you to wake up.

Symptoms of Insomnia

The symptoms of insomnia can be varied and different for each person. However, some common symptoms include:-

  • Fatigue

  • Problems with concentration, memory and attention

  • Daytime sleepiness

  • Poor academic performance

  • Irritability/ moodiness

  • Lack of motivation/energy

  • Prone to making mistakes/errors/having accidents

  • Aggression/Impulsiveness

Why do we need sleep?

So why do we need so much sleep and what happens to the body when we are sleeping. Scientists know some critical functions of sleep but still do not have a full understanding of exactly what happens to our body systems when we sleep. Some of the evidence shows the following functions of sleep.

  • T cells (immune cells) race around the body when it is resting to help with immunity

  • Hormones are synthesized

  • Muscles grow

  • Tissues are repaired

  • The brain is cleared of toxins and unnecessary information

  • Nerve cells communicate and reorganise

  • Memories are solidified and consolidated (from short term into long term memories)

  • Dreaming can take place

Reflexology points

Direct Reflex Points: Pineal gland (in the brain, secretes melatonin) to set the body’s biological clock and help with sleeping issues.

Associated Reflex Points:

  • All endocrine glands (secrete hormones into blood stream) to rebalance the functioning of the body and to aid sleep. To promote homeostasis through correct hormone functioning.

  • Brain (central organ of nervous system) to encourage the body to enter a relaxed state (parasympathetic nervous system) and help it cope with the effects of stress.

  • Spine (33 individual bones stacked on top of each other) to promote spinal integrity, release tension and promote relaxation.

  • Solar Plexus (a complex network of nerves) to calm and balance the nervous system.

  • Diaphragm (muscle between thorax and abdomen) to encourage deep breathing and help with stress.

There is no denying sleep is a complex issue and also essential for us to function. Quality of sleep definitely helps us to cope with life and the various stressors we experience. If sleep is or can be an issue with you then do give reflexology a go.

Sleep tight

Helen x

Yoga poses to help sleep

Yogamatters have written a helpful blog sharing 5 poses that will aid sleep. To read the blog and see the poses follow this link to their website

If you want to know more about what happens when we are asleep then keep reading.

Sleep regulation

The body goes through two cycles of sleep non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM). These two cycles of sleep are repeated through the night, lasting approximately ninety minutes each.

As a person begins to fall asleep they enter NREM, this is composed of 3 stages and it accounts for 75% of the night.

Stage 1

- Stage between awake and falling asleep

- Light sleep

Stage 2

- Start of sleep

- Switch off from surroundings

- Heart rate and breathing becomes regular

- Body temperature drops

Stage 3

- Deepest and most restorative sleep

- Blood pressure drops

- Breathing rate slows

- Muscles are relaxed and blood supply increases to them

- Tissue growth and repair occurs

- Energy is restored

- Hormones are released e.g. growth hormone

The body will then cycle into a REM stage, which accounts for approximately 25% of the night. During this stage the eyes move rapidly behind closed lids and brain waves are similar to being awake.

During REM

- Energy is provided to the brain and body

- Dreams occur and the brain is active

- Eyes dart back and forth

- The body is immobile and relaxed, muscles are turned off

These two cycles repeat, but in each further cycle less time is spent in stage three and more time in REM. A person will go through 4 or 5 sleep cycles a night.

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