Reflexology for sleep problems – a perspective

Sleep is such an important part of our lives, but what actually is sleep and what does it do for us?

During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development.

The damage from sleep deficiency can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others. [1] Researchers have linked poor sleep to a number of ailments, from short-term memory loss and behavioural problems, to weight gain, diabetes, and even increased risk of cancer, just to mention a few. [2]

If we spend too much time indoors, in a windowless office during the day and in front of the TV, computer screens and mobile phones in the evenings, insomnia can soon set in because our brains struggle to determine what time it is.  sleep

The combination of light deficiency during the day and excessive light exposure at night causes your biological clocks to get out of sync.

A 30-60 minute exposure to outdoor light every day helps to anchor our circadian rhythm. [2] This means that our master clock is set to be awake and alert during the day and to rest and sleep during the night.

After sustained periods of sleep disruption, we can be left feeling agitated, grumpy, stressed and on high alert. It then becomes ever more difficult to get to sleep, and thus becomes a stress in itself, and the cycle continues.

Reflexology can also help with problems like this, as it allows a time and place for deep relaxation to occur. The appointment is in your diary. You are expected to lay back. You are expected to maybe close your eyes. You are expected to relax. Once in a state of deep relaxation, the body can begin to switch off the “high alert” and allow the parasympathetic nervous system to do its work, increasing digestion, immunity, libido, and most importantly here, providing a good environment for resetting the master clock to promote a healthy sleep pattern.

Combine regular reflexology with reduced time spent in front of TV and computer screens, particularly in the evenings, reduced consumption of stimulants during the evenings (such as alcohol and caffeine), and a good dose of outdoor light during the day, and you should be well on your way to a better night’s sleep.

For more of me on sleep, melatonin and circadian rhythm see my other blog post on the Winter Blues.

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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[1] http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why

[2] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/12/10/dangers-sleeping-too-much.aspx?e_cid=20151210Z2_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20151210Z2&et_cid=DM92051&et_rid=1256832826

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Do you suffer from the Winter Blues?

I always feel a little sad during August. Towards the end of this month the long summer days are noticably getting shorter and the summer holidays are drawing to a close. Businesses and shops are no longer focussing on summer products and are now looking at autumn/winter collections.

Inevitably, the autumn and winter will be soon upon us. Are you one to suffer with the winter blues? Some people suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which although the actual cause is still unknown, it is thought to be a depression brought on with the shorter days, lack of daylight and darker mornings. Symptoms include low mood and lack of interest in life (1).

Lack of sunlight is suggested to cause an upset in the balance of the endocrine glands situated in the brain, and thus the production of the hormones serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is known to influence mood, social behaviour, sleep and memory, whereas melatonin is connected to the body’s natural circadium rhythm (natural body clock), sensing the onset of darkness/night time and thus makes us sleepy at the right time.(2)

Reflexology would aim to help improve the symptoms of SAD, with a treatment plan focussing on the endocrine, digestive and nervous systems (note that serotonin is also produced in the intestines). A course of treatments would endeavour to rebalance the body, asking the body to ignite its self-healing processes, and thus improve mood and feelings of lacklustre.

Alternatively, the Lumie Bodyclock Iris 500 might be able to help. (3) An alarm clock and aromatherapy diffuser all-in-one combines light therapy with aromatherapy to gently wake you up in the morning and help you fall asleep at night. The Lumie is designed to reset your natural bodyclock and provides relief with its wonderful alternative to the usual jolting alarm clock sound.

The light source turns on gradually in the last 30 minutes of your sleep, mimicking a natural sunrise. This alongside your favourite essential oil (geranium or lemon for example) helps you ease into the day gently. The lamp can also be used in the evening to help you fall asleep, thus encouraging the natural secretion of melatonin and natural onset of sleep, alongside the appropriate essential oil, such as lavender.

The Lumie has two separate chambers for essential oils which makes it easy to switch between essential oil blends, one for night time and one to wake up to.

Lumie

The Lumie is not just for people suffering with SAD, but can also be a wonderful aid for boosting energy levels, healthy sleep patterns and improved sports training. The Lumie is available from my webshop, or alternatively order with  me direct via phone/email to receive £25 worth of complimentary aromatherapy oils of your choice for to get you started.

(1) http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Seasonal-affective-disorder/Pages/Introduction.aspx

(2) Ross and Wilson Anatomy and Physiology in Health and Illness 12th Edition

(3) https://uk.nyrorganic.com/shop/jackiemarsden/area/shop-online/category/burner/product/9383/lumie-bodyclock-iris-500/

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and an independent consultant for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. All views are my own.

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Are you getting enough Vitamin O?

What am I talking about? Oxygen.

I’m no expert on yoga/breathing/meditation, however what I learn and find useful for myself, I always share where needed, particularly with my clients.

Many people come to me with stress-related issues, anxiety, sleep problems. Our minds wander and we worry, we ask:

  • Why me?
  • Why (insert loved ones name here)?
  • Why did it happen?
  • I wished it hadn’t happened
  • I’m worried it will happen
  • … the list could go on but you get the idea.

While we’re wasting our time doing this, our bodies are responding with the “fight or flight” response. Heart rate quickens, blood pressure increases, our immune and digestive systems start slowing. Our breath becomes shallow.

We need something to get away from the mind’s futile worrying. What could be easier and more opportune than our breath? Take some deep, slow breaths. Allow the oxygen to fill up our chests, our tummies, our whole bodies. Sweep in through the nose, and if you can, out through the nose, if not slowly and gently through the mouth. Try counting 1,2,3,4 as you inhale, 1,2,3,4 as you exhale. Add in some pauses. Count 1,3,3,4 after every inhale and exhale.

These simple techniques should help you tune out your mind’s babble and focus on the present moment. What is actually bothering you right now at this present moment? Nothing.

Posture during these breathing exercises is important too. If you’re doing them in bed in the middle of the night then you should be horizontal and comfortable. Make sure you’re warm and you can relax your muscles. If you’re sitting then it might be useful to use a small cushion to “prop up” your seat bones (those bony bits in your bottom cheeks). Tilting the pelvis forward like this will shift the spine straighter and open up the chest area, allowing more space.

During my reflexology treatments, my sequence always starts with the diaphragm line, followed by lung reflex, to help calm the breath and aid relaxation.

When we breathe we are literally giving our whole bodies oxygen: what could be more holistic?

The breath is so obvious that it often gets overlooked, but this is one of the greatest tools we have to help ourselves.

Are you getting enough Vitamin O?

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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Image courtesy of hinnamsaisuy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Reflexology and Fibromyalgia

What is Fibromyalgia? Fibromyalgia, also called Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. As well as widespread pain, people with Fibromyalgia may also have increased sensitivity to pain, fatigue, muscle stiffness, sleep disorders, problems with mental processes (“brain-fog”) e.g. problems with memory and concentration, dizziness and balance problems, headaches and migraines, digestive upsets. The exact cause of Fibromyalgia is unknown, but it’s thought to be related to abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain and changes in the way the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) processes pain messages that are carried around the body. (1)

ID-100184055How might reflexology help Fibromyalgia sufferers? When we are stressed our bodies are on constant high alert, engaging our sympathetic nervous system ready to “fight or flight”. However this means that the parasympathetic nervous system is shut down, so things like digestion, relaxation and sleep patterns will not have optimum conditions to function properly. Pain is an obvious stress, both physically and mentally.

Reflexology is deeply relaxing which can help the body and mind break the constant stress cycle and seek re-balance. In general, we have around 7000 nerve endings in the feet, making them particularly sensitive and helpful for accessing the whole body. Reflexology might help manage and reduce the symptoms of Fibromyalgia through a tailored treatment plan specific to the patient’s particular issues. Depending on the level of intensity of pain, shortened reflexology treatments might be advisable to begin with. Below are the key symptoms of Fibromyalgia and the subsequent reflex points I can pay particular attention to during treatments:

  • Joint pain: concentrate on the relevant reflex points on the feet for joints concerned e.g. shoulder, knee, hips, jaw. Adrenal gland reflexes can be gently worked to stimulate the production of the body’s own anti-inflammatories and pain management.
  • Fatigue: pay attention to the adrenal glands and pancreas reflexes. This aims to increase energy and re-balance and regulate blood-sugar levels.
  • Sleep disorders: work the diaphragm reflex (to promote relaxation and calmer breathing), pineal and pituitary gland reflexes (to promote a re-balance of circadian rhythms and of the endocrine system in general).
  • Digestive upsets: general relaxation techniques to awaken the parasympathetic nervous system. Colon and small intestine reflex points in particular.
  • Headaches and migraines: concentrate on brain, spine, particularly cervical spine, head and neck area reflexes.
  • Dizziness and balance: concentrate on inner-ear reflex point.

Update Jan 2016 – Since first writing this blog I have trained in Reflexology Lymph Drainage and carried out a case study on a Fibromyalgia client. Further info to follow.

(1) http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Fibromyalgia/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net