To say that I love massages is an understatement. In fact, the French phrase "raison d'être" (aka "reason for being") comes to mind, because it's hard to think of anything I love more in life. So, when I was contacted by Zeel Massage — a company and app that literally allows you to order a massage that you get right in your own home — about doing an experiment where I would try sleep massages once a week for a month in the comfort of my own apartment, not only did I jump at the chance, I honestly could have cried. And now that I'm on the other side of this experience, I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty: Find some way, any way, to make this a part of your self-care routine.
First of all, you might be wondering what a sleep massage even is, and what makes it different from a regular massage, so let's start there. Elite Daily spoke with Eva Carey, national director of massage at Zeel, who explains that, really, any massage can help you enjoy deeper, and more restorative sleep. Plus, she says, both the National Institute of Health and the American Massage Therapy Association say that massage therapy can reduce fatigue and improve sleep.
Although Zeel offers a bunch of different types of massage, the brand developed a particular massage for this exact purpose: to help promote deep, healthy sleep.
What makes a sleep massage unique, Carey explains, is the combination of scalp massage, gentle Swedish massage, reflexology, and gentle rocking, which all help produce feelings of calmness and relaxation.
"Essentially, it’s the 'putting the baby to bed' of massages," Carey tells Elite Daily. "And, because Zeel comes to you, once the massage is over, you don’t need to drive home, you can roll right into bed."
To understand how massages can truly benefit you, Carey explains that your body releases the neurotransmitter serotonin during a massage, which is essential for the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle.
Because of these effects, Carey tells Elite Daily, these soothing, sleep massage sessions can be especially helpful for people with insomnia. I just so happen to be someone who struggles with insomnia, so to say the least, I was super stoked to get started with this experiment.
I booked my first massage with masseuse Careen Gumbs for 9:30 p.m. Mind you, I only booked this session, like, an hour and a half before the scheduled time. See what I mean about it being the Seamless of massage life? It's awesome.
Anyway, Gumbs arrived at my apartment with her own massage table, and I provided sheets and a pillow case to cover it. She asked if I wanted music, which I did, then she left me to get settled.
Here's the massage table in my room:
I was feeling pretty stressed that day, so my body was definitely tense. But Gumbs gave me what I can confidently say was the best massage of my life. The woman is a healer sent down from the heavens.
After we were done, I was calm and sleepy, but I must admit, I was so relaxed it actually made me a little anxious. Having my body feel that relaxed is not a feeling I am all that used to. Weird? Maybe. But I'm working on it.
Here's me, feeling a little disoriented after that first heavenly massage:
I didn't let myself go to bed after that (insomnia is a fickle thing, my friends), but when I did, I didn't have any trouble falling asleep. And as the massages continued throughout the month, I got more and more mentally accustomed to the feeling of relaxation, as did my body.
While I worked with a different masseuse the second week, I specifically requested Gumbs for the two massages thereafter, because I just freaking loved her that much.
Gumbs and I got to talking before one of these massages, and during our conversation, she told me how massages really are an important part of being healthy, and feeling connected to your body. But unfortunately, she pointed out, it's a part of self-care that people often ignore, or write off as a luxury.
Call it a luxury all you want, but by the third week, I was convinced that sleep massages are something that everyone needs to be doing as often as they can. My body just felt better in general, all the time. I felt less stiff, I had more energy, I was less anxious, and yeah, I was definitely sleeping better.
This is me at week three, and yes, that is zit cream on my face:
You better believe I slept like a baby lamb that night.
And here I am at week four — happy, relaxed, and is it just me, or is my skin clearer?
Look, if it weren't for one tiny detail in this whole thing, I'd be doing this every week for the rest of my life. But that tiny detail is money, and as I'm sure you could have guessed, a sleep massage doesn't exactly come cheap. While I was fortunate enough to get a month's worth of massages for free, a typical, hour-long Zeel massage will run you somewhere between $89 and $130 for a base price, according to the brand's blog, Pause, plus an 18 percent gratuity — a pretty penny, indeed. But is it something I'm willing to put aside a little money for, maybe once a month? Honestly, yeah, it totally is. My mom even treated me to another one after hearing how beneficial I found them. (Thanks, Ma!)
And hey, Jillian Sanders, director of PR for Zeel, tells Elite Daily that through the end of March, new customers can use the code "SLEEP" for $20 off a massage, in honor of National Sleep Awareness Month.
So, who's ready to relax?