A new study involving twenty mothers and their full-term infants, revealed that massage therapy helps newborns develop a more regular sleep cycle.
Dr. Sari Goldstein from Tel Aviv University says that massage therapy by mothers in the perinatal period helps infants coordinate their circadian systems with environmental cues. Circadian rhythm is a biological clock that helps humans and other beings adjust to the Earth's 24-hour rotational time.
In the study involving twenty mothers, participants were assigned to either the treatment group, in which mothers massaged their infants, or the control group, in which the infants were not massaged. Researchers used a sensor to measure the infants' daytime and nighttime activity before and after the treatment. Quantities of a byproduct of Melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone secreted by the pineal gland at night was measured in the babies at 6,8 and 12 weeks of age.
The study revealed that 8-week old infants in the massage group displayed an activity pattern more closely aligned with their mothers.While the control group showed peak activity during midnight, infants in the treatment group were more active in the early hours of the day. Melatonin production was found to be higher during nighttime in the 12-week old massaged infants.