Y. Kudo & M. Sasaki
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (2020), 1064-1075
Massage therapy has been shown to have a relaxing and comforting effect which may benefit sleep. Warm baths have been shown to have similar effects. These interventions may improve sleep through effects on sleep quality and efficiency, the autonomic nervous system, and subjective well-being.
The objective of this study was to look at the combined effect of a warm hand bath followed by a hand massage on elderly women experiencing sleep disturbances. Both interventions are easy to administer in a nursing or caregiver setting.
Who was it?
Thirty elderly Japanese women aged 65 or older participated in this study. All women were healthy but were classified as “poor sleepers” according to a subjective sleep assessment.
What was done?
This was a randomized controlled crossover study. Each woman participated in two conditions: (1) the intervention, which consisted of the hand bath for 5 minutes with a 20-minute hand massage, and (2) the control, which consisted of the participants normal activities. Outcomes measured included sleep actigraphy, subjective sleep quality, hart rate variability, and subjective comfort and relaxation.
Following a hand bath with massage, subjects showed improved sleep efficiency and fell asleep faster. They also experienced a decreased heart rate variability, greater comfort and relaxation, and better subjective sleep quality.
Sleep disturbances are a common problem, which over time can result in significant health problems. Pharmacological treatments may help sleep but are associated with serious side effects, making it critical to identify non-pharmaceutical interventions that can be used to support sleep. At Fringe, we are big believers in the concept of “health stacking”; that is, combining tools that support health in order to maximize their benefits. This study is a great example of health stacking, combining hand baths and massages, and shows that sleep can be positively affected by things that are simple, safe, and easy to implement.