Circadian rhythms, also known as your internal clock, operate on a 24 hour cycle and influence everything that your body goes through on a daily basis. From optimal digestion to sleep, circadian rhythms play a crucial role. The circadian rhythms are regulated by a group of nerves known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which is located in the hypothalamus of the brain. This nucleus of nerves responds to environmental cues like sunlight and darkness. This triggers the release of hormones that regulate everything from body temperature to metabolism.
When everything is balanced, your body runs precisely without any issues. When the body clock is disrupted, your sleep may become sporadic, your moods may become erratic and your metabolism may slow down causing your body to hold onto extra weight. Your natural circadian rhythms can become accelerated or slowed depending on what is occurring in your life. For instance, working the night shift can severely throw things off and not just while you’re working that shift, but for months afterwards.
The best way to keep your circadian rhythms functioning properly is to keep a regular schedule, as much as possible. But in the fast-paced society we live in, that isn’t always practical. One way to compensate for the crazy hectic lives we lead is to give yourself the gift of regular massage.
Massage therapy has been around for thousands of years and it can be very beneficial in a number of ways. Most people think of massage therapy to help relieve the aches and pains of tired, sore muscles. But studies show that a massage can also be very relaxing. This is measured by the amount of specific hormones in the blood stream both before and after a massage.
Cortisol, the hormone that is related to elevated stress levels, is one of the first chemicals to decrease within the body during and after a massage. This helps create or re-establish better and more regular sleep patterns. When we have restful, uninterrupted sleep, our bodies are able to repair and rejuvenate.
Because so many of us work well into the evening and night hours, even after working a regular 9 to 5 job, we inadvertently disrupt our circadian rhythms and because of this, our sleep time is shortened and restless. This can increase body aches and pains, anxiety and fatigue. By incorporating regular massage therapy into your routine, your body can get some extra down time.
Even hospitals have come to realize the importance of massage therapy. Many now employ licensed massage therapists to help patients who deal with insomnia because lack of sleep means increased healing times and raises the risk of compromising the immune system even further. Plus, by utilizing massage therapy, fewer drugs are needed to help people sleep and heal.
If you or somebody you know deals with poor sleep, imbalanced circadian rhythms or insomnia, it might be beneficial to add a massage into your self-care plan. The benefits are endless and your body will be so happy that you took care of it.