We all require a great night’s sleep in order to function at optimum levels during the course of our increasingly stress filled days. Sleep helps to restore balance and mental acuity, as well as restore our bodies to tip top shape. A good night’s sleep allows us to dream and gives our minds time to make sense of the day’s events. However for many people a good night’s sleep continues to be a dream itself.
For many people artificial, chemical based sleep aids are becoming popular, but these often come with a host of unpleasant side effects. An alternative is the practice of reflexology which is a natural way to relax. It is actually possible for people to enjoy the benefits of self-administered reflexology to aid in drifting off to sleep at night.
By stimulating reflex points on your feet, hands and face, reflexology can impact the entire body. A simple reflexology routine that involves just the feet can help you or another get to sleep naturally. There are about 15,000 nerves in your feet alone, one of many reasons that foot reflexology is so effective.
Reflexologists use a map of the feet where all the organs, glands, and corresponding parts of the body are mapped. The toes represent the head. The ridge beneath the toes on the top part of the ball of the foot is the shoulder or neck line. The ball of the foot reflects the chest. The arch mirrors the digestive organs, and the heel and ankles represent the reproductive system. The inside curve of each foot (where we find the spinal reflex) corresponds to the curves of the spine.
Below is a 15-minute routine in four practical steps that you can incorporate into your pre sleep routine.
1. Relax the feet
Deal with each foot one at a time. Using a simple relaxation technique: pressing and squeezing, lightly slapping or gently kneading — whatever length of time feels good. Finish by pressing and holding your thumb on the solar plexus point of each foot for up to 10 seconds each.
2. Bottom of the feet
“Walk” your thumb up from the base of the heel to each toe (imagine your thumb is a caterpillar inching its way up your foot), then press these reflex points with the outer edge of your thumb or tip of your forefinger.
Each part of the foot provides the following effects:
- Head/brain (top of each toe) promotes clarity and positive thinking.
- Pituitary or “master gland” (centre of big toe) stimulates/balances hormone secretions of all other glands.
- Pineal gland (outer side of big toe) secretes melatonin which controls our circadian rhythm/sleep cycle.
- Thyroid (base of big toe) balances metabolism.
- Neck/shoulders (ridge of toes) releases tension
- Chest/lungs (ball of foot) calms breathing.
- Solar plexus/diaphragm (under ball of foot in the centre) encourages profound relaxation and peacefulness.
Repeat these movements until you begin to feel more relaxed. At the end of your session finish with another thumb press on the solar plexus point on both feet.
3. ‘Breeze Strokes’
Close off with “breeze strokes” — lightly running your fingertips down the tops, bottoms and sides of each foot in a light motion, barely touching the skin. Repeat this several times. It is very soothing to the nervous system.
Reflexology is a way to encourage deep relaxation where you are open to internal, mental suggestions. This is a great time for a pre-sleep affirmation, for example “The world is a better place than it was yesterday and nurtures me towards a peaceful night’s sleep’.
This is also the ideal time to appreciate those around you and the small moments of joy during the day. Use positive thinking to set yourself up for a great new day