Reflexology—a system of addressing points on the feet, hands and ears to effect change in the body—has been shown to improve sleep quality among post-partum women.

Researchers at the Department of Nursing, Tri-Service General Hospital, in Taiwan, conducted a randomized controlled trial at two postpartum centers in northern Taiwan.

Sixty-five postpartum women reporting poor quality of sleep were recruited from July 2007 to December 2007. Participants were assigned randomly to either an intervention or a control group. Participants in both groups received the same care except for reflexology therapy.

The intervention group received a single 30-minute foot reflexology session at the same time each evening for five consecutive days. Sessions were administered by a certified nurse reflexologist.

The outcome measure was the Pittsburgh sleep quality index (PSQI), and this was performed at baseline and post test. An intervention involving foot reflexology in the postnatal period significantly improved the quality of sleep.

“Midwives interested in complementary therapies should be encouraged to obtain training in reflexology and to apply it in clinical settings if it is allowed,” the researchers noted.

Past research has shown reflexology to reduce symptoms of low-back pain, reduce chemotherapy patients’ anxiety, and relieve symptoms of MS.