30 Oct Get better sleep in perimenopause with a foot rub
- A 2022 study shows that foot massage helps women going through menopause get longer, more rejuvenating sleep.
OCTOBER 30, 2022—Do you have lousy sleep and are also going through perimenopause (the 5 to 10 years before your final period when menstrual cycles get unpredictable) or have recently reached menopause (when you haven’t had a period for 12 consecutive months)? Is this lousy sleep draining you of energy, making you feel like a walking zombie throughout your day?
If so, you’re not alone. Many symptoms that crop up during the menopause transition can keep you from clocking a good night’s sleep, including night sweats (which is a hot flash, but at night, where you feel like you’re heating up and get covered in sweat), night chills (where you’re suddenly freezing), aches, racing thoughts, anxiety and headaches. You can point a guilty finger for these symptoms toward dropping and fluctuating levels of estrogen. As your body produces less of this hormone, and produces it in erratic amounts, you can experience changes in temperature regulation, pain sensitivity, mood and other issues.
Now for some good news: Researchers have discovered a simple way for you to get better sleep starting tonight. Ask someone to rub your feet or give yourself a foot rub.
The foot massage/menopausal sleep connection
In a 2022 study in the journal Menopause, a research team out of Turkey compared the effects of foot massage on a group of 70 women who were bothered by menopause symptoms that were disrupting their sleep .1 Half the volunteers had each foot rubbed for 20 minutes (10 minutes per foot) every day for seven days by a health practitioner. The other volunteers were the control group, so they didn’t have their feet rubbed.
What the researchers discovered: The women in the massage group slept an astonishing one hour longer and were more than twice as energized during their day as those who didn’t get a foot rub, suggesting that the sleep they got was deeper and more restful.
The link? Foot massage reduces stress and anxiety, relaxing your body and mind. This is key since greater relaxation has been linked to fewer menopausal symptoms, such as night sweats and pain. The result: You drift off faster, stay asleep longer and get deeper, more rejuvenating Zzzs.
Ready to try foot massage yourself?
In the study, participants were rubbed by a health professional who took a short course (16 hours) in massage. But, an untrained foot massage from a friend or partner would be just as effective. And it doesn’t rely on pressing certain acupressure points for it to work.
While the researchers didn’t examine self-massage, it’s likely that you can get similar results from rubbing your own feet. After all, no matter whose fingers are doing the massaging, a foot rub melts away tension as you knead your soles, ankles and toes. You can try the massage techniques used in the study, which include applying thumb pressure, slapping, patting, rubbing and squeezing. Or you can follow an easy DIY tutorial here.
Another option: If you’d like to feel pampered by having someone else do the rubbing, but there aren’t any volunteers around, or you don’t have the flexibility to reach your feet, you can treat yourself to an electric foot massager, which does all the kneading, patting and rubbing for you. Like a footbath, you just stick your feet inside and let the soft rollers do all the work. Then, enjoy your longer, deeper sleep!
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(1) Nilay Gökbulut, Emine Ibici Akça, Çiğdem Karakayali Ay, “The impact of foot massage given to postmenopausal women on anxiety, fatigue, and sleep: a randomized-controlled trial”, Menopause, 29 (2022): 1254-1262