Growth Hormone, Rest and Massage
Friday, June 26, 2015
Not all sleep is equal.
Dr. Krueger, at the University of Kentucky, found that the immune system actually triggers the type of sleep best for healing. Called “delta” or “slow wave” sleep,it is the deep, restful sleep you need to awaken feeling refreshed and energized.
During this stage of sleep, the body releases growth hormone (GH). As its name implies, growth hormone stimulates the growth and repair of damaged tissue. It also stimulates the formation of lymphocytes (white blood cells), needed to fight disease-causing microbes (germs), an important step in healing that's triggered by the immune system.
Consequently, it’s available at just the time you need it most—when fighting an illness. Listen to your body. When you start to feel tired it may be your immune system signaling the need for some healing sleep.
For every action there has to be an opposite and equal reaction. More than a law of physics, it’s a requirement for optimal health. Stress is a part of daily living and unlikely to go away. While you may have little influence over the circumstances that cause you anguish, you can insert periods of rest and recovery. Stress is beneficial because it stimulates change and growth. However, it is during periods of recovery that the growth actually occurs.
Successful athletes make recovery an essential part of their training, for without it, muscles can never achieve their full potential. In the same way, rest has to be your daily routine to protect you from illness. Rest and recovery balance out stress. Without this “R&R” you will never achieve optimal health.
While sleep is our primary way of getting needed rest, there are other ways to rest apart from sleep. One of these is a relaxing massage. This type of rest could be more than just a quiet interlude from the topsy-turvy world you might live in. It can also be an essential ingredient for good health. Dr. Tiffany Fields, at the University of Miami, demonstrated that premature infants who were gently massaged several times each day grew at a faster rate, developed reflexes more rapidly, and had cognitive advantages compared with those premature infants who were not touched.
Your skin is the largest organ in the body and, when touched, can release pain-countering endorphins as well as produce immune system stimulating growth hormone.
Those seeking healing, not just pampering, are incorporating restful massages into their weekly schedules. Couples, of course, can do this for each other.
Moms can give backrubs or foot massages to children and teens. There are many good books that teach techniques, but it doesn’t take a pro to give a good massage. Just use long strokes and some kneading movements; add a little warm lotion or oil, and the recipient will be thankful…and delighted. It’s that simple.