Need Sleep? Get A Massage!



Daylight Savings Time may give us longer days and more sunlight, but it also makes for shorter nights until our bodies adjust. And the toll of sleep deprivation—no matter what the cause—can be significant, including illness and the inability to cope well with stress. Fortunately, massage therapy can help get your body back into healthy sleeping patterns.

Massage Therapy Can Help Improve Sleep

This position statement is taken from the American Massage Therapy Association

Position Statement

It is the position of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) that massage therapy can help improve sleep.

Background Information

Quality sleep is vital to health and wellness.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
“Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions—such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression—which threaten our nation’s health. Notably, insufficient sleep is associated with the onset of these diseases and also poses important implications for their management and outcome. Moreover, insufficient sleep is responsible for motor vehicle and machinery-related crashes, causing substantial injury and disability each year. In short, drowsy driving can be as dangerous—and preventable—as driving while intoxicated.”1

It is estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans experience sleep issues that affect their health.2

Research is indicating that massage can improve sleep in:

  • children and adolescents3, 6
  • those with psychiatric disorders3
  • those who are hospitalized or institutionalized3, 12, 13
  • those with lower back pain 4, 5
  • adults 4, 5, 8, 9, 17
  • those with cerebral palsy6
  • those with fibromyalgia7
  • those with insominia8
  • those in pain 4, 5, 9, 10, 13
  • those with hand pain9
  • those with cancer10
  • infants 11, 18, 19
  • infants with dyssomnia11
  • those who have had heart surgery12
  • those with breast disease14
  • those with migraines15
  • caretakers of hospitalized individuals16
  • the elderly17


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Sleep and Sleep Disorders. Retrieved on January 9, 2012 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website:

2. Institute of Medicine. (2006). Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

3. Field, T., Morrow, C., Valdeon, C., Larson, S., Kuhn, C., Schanberg, S.(1992). Massage reduces anxiety in child and adolescent psychiatric patients.  J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 31(1):125-31.
A 30-minute back massage was given daily for a 5-day period to 52 hospitalized depressed and adjustment disorder children and adolescents. Compared with a control group who viewed relaxing videotapes, the massaged subjects were less depressed and anxious and had lower saliva cortisol levels after the massage. In addition, nurses rated the subjects as being less anxious and more cooperative on the last day of the study, and nighttime sleep increased over this period. Finally, urinary cortisol and norepinephrine levels decreased, but only for the depressed subjects.

4. Field, T., Hernandes-Reif, M., Diego, M., Fraser, M. (2007).  Lower back pain and sleep disturbance are reduced following massage therapy.  Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 11(2) 141-145.

Disclaimer: Position statements of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) are approved by the AMTA House of Delegates and reflect the views and opinions of the association, based on current research. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to scope of practice, medical diagnosis or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company or specific massage therapy technique, modality or approach.

Originally proposed by Ann Blair Kennedy