Massage equivalent to sleep?

I recently heard that a massage is equivalent to sleep on a 1 hour of massage to 4 hours of sleep basis. I suppose this could be true, but my google fu is not strong enough to reveal more than claims that appear to be advertising. What is the Straight Dope on this, O teeming dozens?

Advertising claims:

http://www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/therapist/1174

http://www.valindas.co.uk/index.php?link=therapies&type=ben

I’ve had a number of relaxing massages, and it does feel very restful afterwards. But I do not notice needing less sleep as a result.

Recalling my rotations through sleep study labs in the past, along with reading the occasional review article on the topic of sleep, I can say that this is not true.

Sleep may not be well understood, but it is known that there is no real substitute for sleep. Some drugs or techniques may hold it at bay for a while, but that’s all.

Without the REM stages of sleep (dreaming), people lose the ability to function very well over time. Without deep sleep, the same thing happens.

No massage will replace sleep.

I, a layman, agree with QtM. Although there are physical needs for sleep, such as secretion of certain hormones, IIRC, a huge component of sleep is what goes on in the brain, which cannot be replaced by pushing muscles around.

Ah, yes, the famous uncited studies. Here they do mention only the effect of sleep on muscles; I do not know specifically what happens to muscles during normal sleep.

They don’t even bother to reference studies here, just make the naked claim.

BTW “studies have shown” that most claims of benefits of massage are bullshit. The big benefit is that it feels good.

Having had sleep shortages and massage therapy, I can testify that massage therapy will help- but hardly by 4-8 hours. I’d say maybe 2 hours, assuming you are getting some minimum 6 or so hours to get your REM sleep in (some dudes can do it in 4). I can imagine that some dudes could do OK on 4 hours sleep, a 30 minute nap and an hour massage. I know I was doing fine with 6 hours sleep plus an hour massage (during which I napped off for about half). YMMV. But a half-hour nap is wonderfully refreshing during the afternoon.

Perhaps they are not saying that massage subsitutes for REM sleep, just the rejuvinating tactic of getting extra sleep when you are physically beat. So, let us say you are putting in a punishing 8-10 hours of hard exercise/work a day, which will make you want 10+ hours sleep a day. Here, I can see an hour massage subsituting for the extra 2 hours a day (for 4 days) of sleep.

IME, massage can help insomnia, especially if the masage’s ending is happy. But as a replacement to REM sleep? Nah.

Okay, we seem to agree that this is not true. But is there any science to say that it is not true? Journal articles? Studies? Thanks for your help everyone.

A breif scan of Google Scholar shows that Massage might be useful in treating sleep apnea and similar sleep disorders and improving the quality of the sleep you get. Not as a replacement for sleep.

I think by “sleep” they should mean restful or relax. I am a lawyer and on occasion when you are working very long hours for days on end a massage can help a lot to relax in the small downtimes you have. But as a replacement for sleep? No.

I think the question to ask is whether there are really any studies to back up the claim, not whether there are studies to refute a claim with no substantiation to begin with. I’d ask the people from the first ad what studies they are referring to, as a starting point.