Foot massages can help you sleep better, says research

How having a foot massage before bed can help with sleep problems

Foot massages can help you sleep, sleep & wellness tips
(Image credit: cottonbro / Pexels)

Whether you’re out like a light as soon as your head hits the pillow or you find it hard to fall asleep, we’re all looking for ways to sleep better. Some people prefer listening to sleep podcasts (opens in new tab) while others try TikTok sleep hacks (opens in new tab), but the answer could be even simpler than that: foot massages.

If you’re a fan of foot massages (let’s face it, who isn’t), having one before bed can help you sleep better, according to multiple studies. In a recent JAN study (opens in new tab) released in May 2022, researchers looked into whether foot reflexology could help improve sleep disturbances for adults over the age of 18. The results found that foot reflexology improved overall sleep quality and those who participate in it regularly were also found to be less likely to have sleep problems going forward. 

For those new to foot reflexology, it’s an alternative medical or therapeutic practice that involves applying pressure to specific points of the feet, ears and hands. Also known as zone therapy, stimulating pressure points can provide relief and help those who suffer with insomnia, according to Healthline (opens in new tab).

While foot reflexology is typically done using massage techniques without the use of lotion, further studies have shown that using oils during foot massages can have a similar effect to helping us sleep. In a National Library of Medicine study (opens in new tab) conducted in 2020, researchers found that aroma foot massage using jojoba and lavender oil was an effective way of improving sleep quality and alleviating symptoms of constipation in adults over the age of 70.

Foot massages

(Image credit: Yan Krukov / Pexels)

You might not realise it, but our feet are intrinsically linked to sleep, for example, wearing socks to bed (opens in new tab) can help you sleep better and improve circulation. By stimulating pressure points in the feet by massaging them, not only does this induce sleep and drowsiness, but it can also promote relaxation, ease pain and soothe anxiety.

For women in particular, foot massages are a brilliant way to calm symptoms and help with sleep. Women going through menopause while experience many symptoms like sleep disturbances and fatigue, and foot massages are believed to help ease this. In other ways, foot massages also help those suffering with menstrual cramps, and there’s also a specific pressure point in the foot that’s said to help induce labour.

So, next time you’re having trouble sleeping, why not treat yourself to a foot massage? Try using the best foot massagers (opens in new tab), go for something more luxurious with the best foot spas (opens in new tab) or you can ask your partner to help you out. You can even do it yourself!

How to give yourself a sleep-inducing foot massage

If you’re finding it hard to fall asleep, follow this self-massage tutorial. If you want to focus on specific pressure points, we recommend trying out acupressure, going to a masseuse or speaking to a doctor to determine which points are safe.

1. Start by sitting in a comfortable position and placing your foot on your opposite leg.

2. Working from your heel to your toe, press your thumbs up from the bottom of your foot to the top.

3. Now focusing on the toes, rub and squeeze each toe to alleviate pressure.

4. Moving down the foot, do the same to the ball and arch of your foot. You can do this in strokes or rubbing in circles.

5. Finish up at your heel and ankle, and follow the same steps. Repeat this routine as many times as is comfortable. After you’ve done that, switch to your other foot.

If you’re a massage fan, take a look at our guide to the best massagers (opens in new tab) and check out the best massage guns (opens in new tab) for workout-related pain relief.

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Acting Wellness Editor & Deals Writer

As T3's resident Shopping Expert and Deals Writer, Beth covers deals, discount codes, how to save money and seasonal holidays, including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Amazon Prime Day, Boxing Day and Easter sales. Alongside her primary focus of deals, Beth is currently Acting Wellness Editor, covering all things sleep, yoga, relaxation and general wellbeing.


Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting DIY craft projects that will probably end in disaster!