DIY Foot Reflexology For Your Best Sleep Ever

Holistic Reflexologist By Laura Norman, M.S., LMT
Holistic Reflexologist
Laura Norman, M.S., LMT is a holistic reflexologist and author of Feet First: A Guide to Foot Reflexology
Woman Sitting in a Towel at a Spa

Image by Trinette Reed / Stocksy

We all know that a night of peaceful, restful sleep can work wonders to help the mind and body restore and heal. If you're lacking that kind of deep slumber in your life, I recommend trying the natural relaxation effects of reflexology. It's easier than you think to give yourself a mini reflexology session to promote the rest you desire.

What is foot reflexology and how does it work?

In short, reflexology subtly affects the whole body by stimulating reflex points on the feet, hands, face, and ears. There are nearly 15,000 nerves in your feet alone, so foot reflexology, in particular, can be very calming, soothing, and effective.

Reflexologists use a map of the feet where all the organs, glands, and corresponding parts of the body are laid out. The toes reflect the head. The ridge beneath the toes on the top part of the ball of the foot is a natural shoulder or neckline. The ball of the foot reflects the chest. The arch mirrors the digestive organs, and the heel and ankles contain reflexes for the reproductive system. The inside curve of each foot (where we find the spinal reflex) corresponds to the actual curves of the spine.

Foot reflexology chart with pressure points labeled

Image by Jenny Chang-Rodriguez / mbg Creative

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A foot reflexology routine that promotes deep sleep.

Refer to the chart above as you incorporate this 15-minute reflexology into your bedtime ritual.

1. Relax the feet, one at a time, with simple relaxation techniques. Consider pressing and squeezing, lightly slapping or gently kneading—whatever feels good. Finish by pressing and holding your thumb on the solar plexus point of each foot for 5 to 10 seconds each.

2. On the bottom of each foot, "walk" your thumb up from the base of the heel to each toe (imagine your thumb is a caterpillar inching its way up your foot), then press these reflex points with the outer edge of your thumb or tip of your forefinger:

  • Head/brain (top of each toe) promotes clarity and positive thinking
  • Pituitary or "master gland" (center of big toe) stimulates/balances hormone secretions of all other glands
  • Pineal gland (outer side of big toe) secretes melatonin, which controls our circadian rhythm/sleep cycle
  • Thyroid (base of big toe) balances metabolism
  • Neck/shoulders (ridge of toes) releases tension
  • Chest/lungs (ball of foot) calms breathing
  • Solar plexus/diaphragm (under ball of foot in the center) encourages profound relaxation and peacefulness

If you have other particular areas of your body that are stressed, you can press the corresponding reflex area or point.

3. Apply the relaxation techniques again, and finish with another thumb press on the solar plexus point on both feet.

4. End with "breeze strokes." Lightly run your fingertips down the tops, bottoms, and sides of each foot in a feathery motion, barely touching the skin. Repeat this several times. It is very soothing to the nerves.

5. Since reflexology transports you into a state of deep relaxation where you are open to suggestions, this is a good time for a pre-sleep affirmation such as: "A kind and forgiving world sings me to a peaceful sleep." Also count your blessings and appreciate all of the good times in your day. Envision how you would like your next day to be.

Your bedtime ritual can include a nurturing exchange of reflexology mini-session with your partner. You can even use these same techniques to help your child go to sleep more easily. Sweet dreams!

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