Baby Massage and Sleep
Although we spend approx. 1/3 of our lives asleep, most of us take for granted the value of a good night's rest, that is until we are subjected to inadequate amounts of it. At the times in life we sleep poorly, eg during illness or after long-distance travel, we are abruptly reminded how severely a change in sleep patterns affects our physical and mental capabilities, in addition to our mood and outlook.
"You don't know true tiredness until you've had a baby!" is a sentiment often voiced and rarely disputed. Although parenting advice always focuses on getting babies to sleep faster or more regularly, the raison d'etre of all those experts, techniques and 'regimes', is to enable better sleep for near-exhausted parents. Babies will catch-up on missed night-sleep during the daytime, most often their parents simply do not have that luxury. Baby sleep issues are at least a double (often a multiple) whammy in terms of their human impact.
Tactics for improving babies sleep patterns focus on getting them to fall asleep when we want them to and then staying asleep until we want them to wake up. The good news here is, baby massage has been proven to help all round.
Tiffany Field, an expert in the benefits of touch therapy conducted a series of scientific studies in the early 2000s in to the impact of baby massage routines on infant sleep patterns. She and her colleagues concluded that regular massage in the hour before bedtime not only decreased the time it took for newborns to fall asleep, but also resulted in longer stints of sleep throughout the night and less night-waking.
More recently (2018), Jodi Mindell PhD published a paper in the journal Sleep Medicine which echoed these claims, adding in the viewpoints of the infants' mothers who reported fewer bedtime difficulties in general, improved mood for their babies and also for themselves; with 80% reporting an improved sense of connection with their baby after 2 weeks of regular massage sessions before bed.
Interestingly, the massage routine conducted in Mindell's study was not stipulated by the researchers, or taught by a professional to the mothers beforehand. It was postulated in the study's findings that had the mothers been taught a quality massage routine covering the whole body, that the positive results of the research would have been expected to be even better
What better reason to try a Baby Massage class for yourself?