Reflexology research: fatigue and insomnia

Many people find reflexology to be extremely relaxing and calming. Research into the effects of reflexology on fatigue and insomnia have reported positive results.

A brief feasibility study in 2009 concluded that both reflexology and acupuncture produced a clinically relevant improvement in sleep quality. This benefit was reported after only six treatments over a three week period. ( Acupunct Med 2009;27:163-168 doi:10.1136/aim.2009.000760 Acupuncture and reflexology for insomnia: a feasibility study). The authors concluded that the improvement was significant enough to warrant further research.

A study published in 2005 explored the effects of reflexology on fatigue and insomnia in patients suffering from coal workers' pneumoconiosis. Foot reflexology was performed for one hour twice a week for five weeks in the experimental group, but none in the control group. Statistical analysis tools were used to evaluate the results. These showed a decrease in scores for insomnia and fatigue in the reflexology group. After the intervention there was a significant difference of fatigue and insomnia between the two groups. (Lee YM, Sohng KY Department of Nursing,  Kangwon-Do, Korea. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe chi [2005, 35(7):1221-1228])

ON the NICE evidence database an analysis of research into reflexoogy a sleep is available. A systematic review and analysis of the research available were conducted. Electronic database and manual searches were conducted on all published studies reporting the effects of foot reflexology on fatigue and sleep. Forty four studies were eligible including 15 studies associated with fatigue, 18 with sleep, and 11 with pain. The effects of foot reflexology were analyzed using statistical tools. This analysis of research indicated that foot reflexology is a useful intervention to relieve fatigue and to promote sleep. (J Korean Acad Nurs. 2011 Dec;41(6):821-833. English. Effects of Foot Reflexology on Fatigue, Sleep and Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.)

A further analysis of data also reached similar conclusions. They analysed 40 research studies. this analysis found that using complimentary therapy including reflexology had a statistically significantly positive effect on insomnia. ( Acupressure, reflexology, and auricular acupressure for insomnia: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials Yeung WF et al 2012)

All the reports do concluded that as many of the studies are small more extensive research is required but current research does suggest that reflexology has positive effects for individuals experiencing fatigue and insomnia. This supports the experience I have with clients who often report improved sleep and better energy levels.




Posted on October 9, 2013 and filed under pain, insomnia.