Reflexology and Footbath on Sleep Quality in 69 Elderly Men

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Sleep disorders are common mental disorders reported among the elderly in all countries, and with nonpharmacological interventions, they could be helped to improve their sleep quality.


The aim of this study was to compare the effects of two interventions, foot reflexology and footbath, on sleep quality in elderly people.

Patients and methods: 

This three-group randomized clinical trial (two experimental groups and a control group) was conducted on 69 elderly men. The two experimental groups had reflexology (n = 23) and footbath (n = 23) interventions for 6 weeks. The reflexology intervention was done in the mornings, once a week for ten minutes on each foot. The participants in the footbath group were asked to soak their feet in 41°C to 42°C water one hour before sleeping. The pittsburgh sleep quality index (PSQI) was completed before and after the intervention through an interview process.


The results showed that the PSQI scores after intervention compared to before it in the reflexology and footbath groups were statistically significant (P = 0.01 , P = 0.001); however, in the control group did not show a statistically significant difference (P = 0.14). In addition, the total score changes among the three groups were statistically significant (P = 0.01). Comparing the score changes of quality of sleep between the reflexology and foot bath groups showed that there was no significant difference in none of the components and the total score (P = 0.09). The two interventions had the same impact on the quality of sleep.


It is suggested that the training of nonpharmacological methods to improve sleep quality such as reflexology and footbath be included in the elderly health programs. In addition, it is recommended that the impact of these interventions on subjective sleep quality using polysomnographic recordings be explored in future research.

Keywords: Footbath; Elderly; Reflexology; Sleep.


Embong NH, Soh YC, Ming LC, Wong TW. Perspectives on reflexology: A qualitative approach. J Tradit Complement Med. 2016;7(3):327–331. Published 2016 Dec 3. doi:10.1016/j.jtcme.2016.08.008

Actionable Information for Reflexologists

In this section you will find how this research paper enacted reflexology to produce these results. We at Reflexology.Report distilled the Methodology portion of this research paper and we are presenting you with:

  • General methods used
  • Organization and duration of sessions
  • Reflexology points

The purpose of this section is to make this research paper useful to all reflexologists. This is a tool developed by the Center of Reflexology and Research (Κέντρο Ρεφλεξολογίας και Έρευνας) in Greece and supervised volunteers from across the world.

The intervention sessions were performed for 6 weeks, once a week for 10 minutes with olive oil on each foot. The massage included 5 minutes of full foot massage and 5 minutes of the pineal gland on the big toe massage. Massage was slow with regular rhythm, and within the patients’ tolerance (18).

Οι συνεδρίες  πραγματοποιήθηκαν για 6 εβδομάδες, μία φορά την εβδομάδα για 10 λεπτά με ελαιόλαδο σε κάθε πόδι. Η ρεφλεξολογία περιελάμβανε 5 λεπτά πλήρους μασάζ ποδιών και 5 λεπτά στην επίφυση και τα δάχτυλα των ποδιών. Το μασάζ ήταν αργό με κανονικό ρυθμό και εντός της ανοχής των ασθενών (18).

Full pdf of the research paper

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