Millions of people suffer from sleep disorders ranging in severity.  Here are some common ones:

Insomnia: The most common type of sleep disorder.  Includes the inability to fall asleep, light sleep, or difficulty maintaining sleep.  Unfortunately it is not well understood.

Sleep apnea:  characterized by pauses in breathing while sleeping and often snoring is present.  It is often associated with obesity, heart disease, hypertension and stroke.

Circadian Rhythm Disorders:  Disruption of the normal day/night sleep cycle.  Associated with graveyard shifts, jet-lag, hypothalamic lesions, or lifestyles that affect normal sleep/wake times.

Narcolepsy:  Associated with neurotransmitter dysfunction; specifically very low levels of hypocretin, a hormone that helps regulate appetite and sleep.

Parasomnias:  Uncontrolled motor and verbal activities that occur during sleep.  This category includes, sleep walking, sleep terrors, and sleep talking to name a few.


There are a few key hormones, chemicals and neurotransmitters that balance our circadian rhythm.  These apply to everyone, not just those with circadian rhythm disorders.  The uppers are hypocretins,  norepinephrine, serotonin and histamines.  The downers are melatonin, acetylcholine, GABA and adenosine.

A note of interest here is to say that there are many condtions that can interrupt regular sleep, however sleep deprivation as a side effect is not the same thing as a sleep disorder.


How can massage therapy help with sleep disorders?

Massage therapy can help find a balance between the uppers and the downers.   Relaxation-focused massage can promote the related hormones, namely the downers, mentioned above.  The more regular massage treatments are given, the more the brain releases these hormones in anticipation of treatment.


Catherine Taman is a Registered Massage Therapist practicing in Toronto, Canada.  She has a special interest in treating chronic pain, headaches, sports injuries and pregnancy related pain. To book an appointment with Catherine, visit




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