Dr. Mom blog explores Relaxation techniques for sleep to help with trouble falling asleep
Dr. Mom blog explores Relaxation techniques for sleep to help with trouble falling asleep

In my family medicine practice, I often see patients that have trouble sleepingParticularly difficulty falling asleep.  In medicine, this is known as “initial insomnia”. I always recommend a proper sleep hygiene routine to all my patients that are suffering from poor quality sleep.  But I also talk with them about relaxation techniques for sleep.

Trouble sleeping?  Muscle relaxation can help the body unwind and fall asleep easier

Relaxation techniques for sleep are things you can do every night if you are having trouble sleeping.  One randomized trial assigned 57 patients with insomnia to receive progressive relaxation therapy. What this small study found was that relaxation therapy implemented before bedtime helped improve measures of sleep in patients

Progressive muscle relaxation techniques for sleep

Progressive muscle relaxation techniques for sleep are a serious of muscle exercises you can use to help the body relax.   If you are having trouble sleeping, trying to relax one muscle at a time may help the body fall asleep easier. 

Step 1 of relaxation techniques for sleep

  • Begin with the muscles in the face.  Breathe in and contract the muscles gently in face.  Hold this for 5 seconds.  Breathe out and release the muscles of the face to a relaxed position. 
  • Repeat this 5 times.  Notice any changes in sensation of the muscles, without judgement. 
  • Relax for 20 seconds before moving on to the next muscle group.

Step 2

  • Breathe in and contract the muscles gently in neck.  Hold this for 5 seconds.  Breathe out and release the muscles of the neck to a relaxed position. 
  • Repeat this 5 times.  Notice any changes in sensation of the muscles, without judgement. 
  • Relax for 20 seconds before moving on to the next muscle group.

Step 3

  • Repeat the relaxation techniques for sleep in step 2 with the muscles gently in arms.  Hold this for 5 seconds.  Breathe out and release the muscles of the arms to a relaxed position. 
  • Repeat this 5 times.  Notice any changes in sensation of the muscles, without judgement. 
  • Relax for 20 seconds before moving on to the next muscle group.

Step 4 of relaxation techniques for sleep

  • Breathe in and contract the muscles gently in legs.  Hold this for 5 seconds.  Breathe out and release the muscles of the legs to a relaxed position. 
  • Repeat this 5 times.  Notice any changes in sensation of the muscles, without judgement. 
  • Relax for 20 seconds before moving on to the next muscle group.

If you are having trouble sleeping, you can repeat this exercise with any muscle groups in the body! 

References

Means MK, Lichstein KL, Epperson MT, Johnson CT. Relaxation therapy for insomnia: nighttime and day time effects. Behav Res Ther 2000; 38:665.

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