The Sleep Blog No.2
Holistic therapies to support sleep
Reflexology and Massage.
The sole of your foot contains over 200,000 nerve endings, which houses the highest concentration of nerve endings per square centimetre, than anywhere else in the body. This provides sensory feedback to the central nervous system, providing messages. Each reflexology point by adding pressure and as palpated acts as the sensors and corresponds to various parts of the body.
Reflexology can support the transmission of those impulses restoring homeostasis (balance of
the bodily systems). This can direct the body into a state of parasympathetic reaction (relaxation, lower blood pressure, feeling of safety, lowering stress hormone, therefore sending signals to the body for sleep). Reflexology therapy can prompt alterations in the activity of the brain waves, corresponding with sleepiness and sleep. ((N1 and N2 NREM sleep). Stage N1 (NREM1) sleep is a transition time (from being awake to falling asleep (starting to drift off to sleep – dozing off stage.
Applying pressure to certain reflex points can induce a feeling of calmness, relaxation, peace, supporting sleep. Two such points are the adrenal gland (supports relaxation, inflammation, hormonal balance) and solar plexus point (which governs the adrenal glands, responsible for many actions. The Solar plexus governs the adrenals glands, which produces the stress hormone cortisol. The solar plexus is referred to as the abdominal brain. - a network of nerve fibres. Just think of those stomach flutters or sinking feeling when you are aware of something is wrong or you feel anxiety or not feeling safe, detached/spacy, worried. The polarity to this feeling is being connected, peaceful, relaxed and safe. Such a feeling can be induced by palpation of these reflexology points, amongst other points also.
Kidney 1 acupuncture point in Traditional Chinese Medicine corresponds with the solar plexus reflexology point is considered one of the most ground earthy points in TCM, honouring feelings of peace and therefore calming the spirit which establishes a connection to the earth.
Yoga will facilitate switching on our Parasympathetic nervous system to facilitate, relaxation, digestion and rest. Yoga will move our central nervous system back to a Parasympathetic response -think of a taut tight elastic band all tense and helping this tightness move towards relaxation of muscles, feeling of peace and calmness, safety. If your central nervous system is fixed in the sympathetic response (fear, stress, knot sensation in your gut, panic mode), you will not be able to sleep, as you are in a survival mode – so you will not feel safe to relax.
Massages (See Video Demonstration)
The Vagus Nerve
The vagus nerve can be behind the SCM, Sternocleidomastoid muscle (either side of your neck). The Vagus nerve is situated right behind this muscle. If you turn to the side you can see this muscle protruding. Why is the vagus nerve important? The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve, and runs from the brain to the gut. A major role of the vagus nerve is to switch on the parasympathetic system, which allows the body to “rest and digest, which is in opposition to the fight or flight fear mode. When it is stimulated, it causes your heart rate and blood pressure to decrease and you will feel a sense of peace and relaxation and be able to digest properly. This will help you sleep. It is also involved in involuntary breathing, speech heartbeat, gut health, creativity.