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August 2023

Reflexology for Better Quality Sleep

Source – Reflexions; Summer 2023 – Written by Kate Mulliss, FMAR

Reflexions is the AoR members quarterly magazine letting you discover the latest reflexology insights. Written by Reflexologists, for reflexologists.
In our Summer 2023 Edition we offer members an insight into the importance of sleep, and the consequences of sleep deprivation. Here we share with you one article from this popular magazine.  Want more? Join today and access this whole edition of Reflexions as well as a library of previous editions of this highly sought after magazine.

The importance of sleep
We are generally aware of the consequences of sleep deprivation and the potential implications on long-term health, which can result in mood swings, lack of concentration, reduced energy levels, etc. This clearly illustrates how important good quality sleep is for clients with long-term conditions in coping with physical, psychological and emotional problems and for other clients to maintain their general health.

What does research show about reflexology and sleep?
As reflexologists, one of the benefits of reflexology which we can advertise, is that it results in better quality sleep, which is backed up through research. Among the many studies (which can be searched in the Research Area of the Member’s Area) are details of a recent meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials by Huang et al (2020), the findings of which suggested that foot reflexology produced significant improvements in sleep disturbances. Foot reflexology was concluded to be a non-invasive and convenient intervention and that regularly receiving foot reflexology can be considered complementary therapy to improve the sleep quality of adults with sleep disturbances.

Reflexes and their importance in clients with insomnia
Applying a general reflexology session will undoubtedly exert a deep relaxation effect, but we can focus on particular reflex areas to help support and enhance that effect. Insomnia may be the result of any of a number of issues or a more complex combination. Therefore, several reflex areas are highlighted and discussed below and to why the reflexologist may focus on these for their particular client.

Working these reflexes can help support general relaxation. They are associated with the processes of respiration and circulatory function, which can be negatively impacted by sleep deprivation, which can affect; blood pressure, the health of blood vessels, heart rate variability and inflammation levels generally. Sleep-deprived clients may be more susceptible to respiratory infections or, if currently suffering from any chronic long-term respiratory conditions, may see an exacerbation in their symptoms.

The Hypothalamus and the Pineal
The body’s master clock is located within the hypothalamus and coordinates all biological clocks within an individual, influencing behavioural and physiological rhythms over 24 hours, including the sleep-wake cycle. This light-related circadian rhythm is influenced by the pineal gland suppressing melatonin production during daytime but allowing levels to rise with the onset of darkness. This small gland is therefore important to focus on and work on because it influences melatonin levels.

Other Endocrine Glands
Working all the endocrine glands helps support any dysfunction, many of which have a complex relationship to sleep. During sleep, the secretion of some hormones is inhibited, while in others, it is increased (for example, growth hormone). Insomnia can disrupt this balance resulting in changes to delicate hormonal relationships

Immune System reflexes
It is well known that poor sleep suppresses the body’s immune system function. The body produces particular cytokines (proteins) to help promote sleep, while others are released during sleep to help fight infection and inflammation.
A decrease in protective cytokines can make one more susceptible to infections and take longer to recover from minor illnesses. Supporting the immune system may be particularly beneficial with particular lymphatic techniques. Note that lymphoid tissue is also extensively present along the length of the GI tract and may be helpful where gut issues are a cause of insomnia.

The Spine and Brain
The effect of insomnia means that the nervous system is not only performing its general bodily “housekeeping” duties but also dealing with client thoughts and processing of information, meaning the brain has no adequate “downtime” As a result, clients often feel exhausted, find it difficult to
concentrate, have muddled thinking, difficulty making decisions and remembering information. Working the brain and spinal reflexes can help support the central nervous system and the sympathetic and parasympathetic (autonomic) nervous systems.

The “Insomnia Point” – Shimian
This extra point is located on the plantar surface at the attachment of the plantar ligament of the

Source – Reflexions; Summer 2023 – Written by Kate Mulliss, FMAR
Members can access this whole edition of Reflexions on Long Term Conditions in the Members’ Area. Reflexions is the AoR members quarterly magazine letting you discover the latest reflexology insights. Written by Reflexologists, for reflexologists.