Why do people fall asleep while getting a massage?

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Facebook fan asks: Why do people fall asleep while getting a massage? I find it so embarrassing when I wake up drooling after my monthly deep tissue massage at my beautician. What's happening to me?

Your sensory systems influence how you sleep. We know that what you hear can help you fall asleep (read: What happens when you play music when you sleep?) but what about what you feel?

Massage provides the body with two sensory mediums- touch (known as tactile stimulation) and deep pressure (known as proprioception). As we all interpret sensory experiences differently (some find ice cold water exhilarating, others find it awfully painful) it is important to ensure that the massage you are receiving is pleasing- both in terms of touch and deep pressure.

Some will find light tough soothing, whilst others will find it ticklish or irritating. Some will find a firm massage relaxing, whilst others will register it as painful. In order for a massage to be therapeutic you must discuss your interpretation with the person responsible for the massage.

Massages that make you feel sleepy are the kind that are not painful; that are interpreted as lovely and relaxing; and that help your body transition from fight or flight mode into rest and digest mode.

If there is anything threatening about the massage experience then you will not be able to transition into the sleepy realm of rest and digest and reap any of the benefits.

Hate the smell of the essential oils? Skip them. Not a fan of the 'lower back' massage. Ask to skip it out. Find the room too hot or chilly? Tell your massage therapist so that you gain the full benefits.

When your body experiences the right combination of touch and deep pressure it releases a great mixture of happy hormones (endorphins) and calming love hormones (like prolactin and oxytocin) that help switch off the secretion of stress hormones (such as cortisol). This helps slow down your mind, heart and breathing rate. This can mean more oxygen in your cells and a feeling of tranquility.

What follows most easily after this? Well, sleep of course.

Now go and get a massage and make sure you get to enjoy the shut eye that comes afterwards. No work, no phone calls, just Shhhhhhhh!

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