Reflexology for Insomnia

Those who suffer from insomnia often find that a natural method of relaxation promotes more complete and satisfying rest than drugs. Reflexology techniques provide a pleasant and natural method for achieving the balance and relaxation needed for healthy sleep.

Reflexology helps you clear away the stress and turmoil of everyday life so you can gain healthy, restful sleep. Your body will respond with gradually increasing mental and physical clarity as you experience the careful manipulation of specific reflex points on the foot. An experienced reflexologist can help relieve insomnia using techniques based on ancient knowledge of these reflex points.

What is Insomnia?

Very simply, the word insomniameans “inability to gain adequate sleep.” Generally, the word is not used for the occasional night when an exciting day or a worrisome event makes it difficult for you to quickly fall asleep. Instead, insomniausually refers to a state in which sleeplessness is a regular condition and actually interferes with a person’s normal life activities. The condition may refer to difficulty falling asleep as well as the condition of waking up prematurely or a sleeping pattern punctuated by frequent periods of wakefulness.

How Does Reflexology Work to Relieve Insomnia?

Reflexologists divide the body, from head to toe, into ten zones. Each of these zones is reflected in a particular area on the bottom of the foot. For instance, reflexes on the toes correspond to the brain, the center of our sleep, so those reflex points are given special attention when treating insomnia. The skilled use of thumb and finger pressure on reflex points stimulates blood circulation and increases oxygen absorption.

At the center of the top pad in each large toe is the reflex point that corresponds to the pineal gland. The pineal gland is a small cone-shaped structure that produces the hormone melatonin. Because that hormone affects a person’s sleep patterns, maintaining a balanced level is important for healthy sleep. Understandably, the reflex for that gland is of great importance in treating insomnia. The skilled reflexologist may also focus on reflex points that correspond with the solar plexis, or the network of nerves in the abdomen, the respiratory system, the digestive system, and the circulatory system. Clearing away imbalances in any of these systems can lead to a healthier, more relaxed sleeping pattern.

What Basic Techniques of Reflexology Are Effective for Insomnia?

The experienced reflexologist knows where the various reflex points are located on each foot. Most sessions begin with slow, steady, careful manipulation of the pressure points on the toes. Then the practitioner moves lower on the foot, assessing each reflex point to detect congestion or a blockage of energy. A number of different techniques are used to free pressure points and renew the flow of energy though the body.

Some of the most commonly used are:

  • Thumb Walking: The practitioner first places his or her hand, with thumb extended, on the area of focus. To begin walking, he or she slides the thumb back slowly while flexing the first knuckle upward. Then, moving slowly, steadily and firmly, the reflexologist moves the thumb or “walks” it steadily over the reflex point.
  • Finger Walking: The motion for finger walking is similar to that of thumb walking. It is often used to manipulate the tops of the toes. The reflexologist uses one finger on the top or edges of the toes, or all fingers together for a wider sweep.
  • Rotating: The reflexologist rests the pad of his or her thumb on the area to be manipulated. Maintaining a steady touch on the area, the therapist moves gently over the area in a small circle, gradually increasing the pressure. Pressuring the pineal reflex point with this technique stimulates the pineal gland, promoting deep relaxation in the receiver.
  • Holding: Often used after a rotating motion, the technique of holding the thumb on a reflex point for a count of three tends to bring a feeling of warmth and relaxation to the person receiving the treatment. Continuing this motion for about thirty seconds, the reflexologist might then hold the thumb still, pressuring the pineal reflex firmly until the receiver feels a sensation of warmth and wellbeing.

Can I Perform Reflexology Techniques On Myself?

Contacting an experienced reflexologist will give you access to quality care and information. If treatment from an experienced reflexologist is not available in your area, you might want to try applying some basic reflexology techniques yourself. Keep in mind that continued practice will help you become more effective, both as the reflexologist and as the receiver.

Use these suggestions as you massage the reflex points for your own feet for insomnia:

  • Although soaking your feet is not a necessary part of the process, you may find that soaking them in warm water with Epsom salts before the reflexology treatment produces a beneficial feeling of comfort and warmth.
  • Sit in a comfortable chair and hold the right foot, upturned as far as is comfortable, in the left hand.
  • To stimulate the reflex point for the pineal gland on your foot, use the thumb of your right hand to “walk” in a slow, rhythmic motion over the top pad of the big toe. The action of thumb walking over the reflex point that corresponds to the pineal gland is particularly effective in clearing the mind and body for relaxing sleep. Repeat it two or three times.
  • Try finger walking on the tops of the second and third toe. Repeat this procedure two or three times.
  • Repeat this process with the left foot, reversing the role of the hands
  • Practice this technique on a regular basis, at bedtime, for maximum effectiveness.

What is Reflexology?

Reflexology, a health system developed in China 4,000 or more years ago, is widely practiced today around the world. Practitioners believe that a normal, healthy body exists in a state of balance. Energy flows freely though the body. This energy is channeled through the nervous system, with the brain and spinal cord sending messages directly to all parts of the body, directing them to act properly. As we all know, the normal stresses of daily life can cause imbalances. An energy blockage or congestion can cause an illness or discomfort, such as insomnia. The reflexologist detects and relieves these imbalances by applying special types of touch or pressure to designated reflex points.

Whether you seek treatment from a skilled reflexologist or apply the techniques yourself, the resulting affect is cumulative. That is, the more frequently you experience the treatment, the more receptive you will be to the touch and the more effective will be the reflexology sessions.

Additional Considerations

Reflexology is not recommended for diabetics, pregnant women, epileptics, or anyone receiving medical treatment. The feet of diabetics can be sensitive to injury; manipulating some areas of the feet can cause contractions in pregnant women; and some epileptics may experience seizure from reflexology treatment.

Additional Resources
Complete and understandable information about the practice of reflexology is given in the following book:

The Everything Reflexology Book, by Valerie Voner, C.R.T., C.T.M., R.M.T,.Adams Media Corporation, 2003.

The following web sites offer good information about reflexology and insomnia:

Alternative and Integral Therapies for Insomnia from

Reflexology and insomnia from

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