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Use Progressive Relaxation Training to Calm Body and Mind

If your sleep is suffering due to insomnia, there are many different mental techniques which can be used to help, and one of the most effective is progressive relaxation training.



As more and more research is starting to be done on insomnia, the majority of experts are in agreement about the fact that insomnia is mainly a mental disorder that causes people to have difficulties both falling asleep and remaining asleep throughout the night.

Due to this new research, more doctors are now starting to recommend different mental techniques as a way to treat insomnia and other sleeping problems. Most of these techniques fall under the category of cognitive behavioral therapy, and progressive relaxation seems to be one of the most effective of these treatments.

Progressive relaxation is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that focuses on relaxing both your body and mind before going to bed, and has been proven to be quite effective at treating insomnia. 

There are several different methods of progressive relaxation training that can be used, but basically all of them involve doing certain exercises while entering into a somewhat meditative state in order to allow the body and mind to fully relax and unwind before attempting to sleep.

progressive relaxation trainingThis type of therapy seems to be effective because one of the main causes of insomnia is an inability to relax the mind and body in order to achieve the restful state necessary to facilitate proper sleeping patterns. Most people who suffer from insomnia do so because they simply cannot take their mind off of the day's events and also continue to concentrate on the things they need to do the next day. 

This makes it very difficult for them to concentrate on sleeping, which in turn makes them more frustrated as they then tend to focus more and more on their inability to fall asleep. 

 

The entire problem seems to be a vicious circle, as the longer they stay awake, the more frustrated they get and the less likely it will be that they can eventually fall asleep. Even when they do finally fall asleep, they often quickly wake up again as their brain still cannot properly relax.

 

Still, most people who start using progressive relaxation training soon find it much easier to relax to the point where sleep can come naturally, so if you are sick of suffering from insomnia, it might well be worth a try.

How to Use Progressive Relaxation Training

The first thing you need to know about this technique is that it may take weeks or even months of using it before your insomnia finally starts to go away, so you need to make sure you don't get frustrated if you don't immediately see positive results. If you start to get frustrated, it will only make the insomnia worse, so make sure to be patient.
progressive relaxation trainingYou will also need to make sure that you use the different techniques throughout the day, or else this type of therapy can simply become another crutch that you need in order to fall asleep. Still, with proper, continued use of these techniques, you should soon find it much easier to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

 During the day, you should take several breaks to try and clear your mind from any distractions and stress. This may be difficult at first, but it should get progressively easier over time. 

You basically want to try to enter a meditative state for a few minutes at a time, in order to help better organize your thoughts and focus on only the important things.

Still, the actual progressive relaxation training won't start until you are ready to go to bed. Once you feel sufficiently tired, you should immediately go to bed and turn off all the lights.

Once you go to bed, you will need to dedicate somewhere between ten and thirty minutes to the progressive relaxation techniques which basically involve focusing your attention on relaxing all of the muscles in your body. As you get more comfortable with this process, it should take less and less time to achieve total relaxation. 

Basic example of an effective technique:

  • As soon as you go to bed, lie on your back and close your eyes.
  • The process involves focusing on the different parts of your body, relaxing them one at a time until they feel like they are sinking into the bed.
  • Start with your feet! Pay attention to your feet. Sense them and their weight. Then you need to consciously focus on relaxing them. Pay attention to the physical tension in your feet, and focus on relaxing this tension until your feet feel completely relaxed and like they are sinking into the mattress. Keep focusing until this happens, beginning with your toes and ending with your ankles, no matter how long it takes.
  • Then you want to move - in your mind of course - to your lower legs and knees, and repeat the same process again until your lower legs feel totally relaxed.
  • Once your lower legs and knees are relaxed, you'll want to move to your upper legs and thighs, then the abdomen, chest, buttocks, hands, arms, shoulders, and neck, in that order.
  • After the neck comes the head. Start with your jaw, and then move to the eyes. Pay special attention to making sure the jaw isn't clenched.
  • Finally, once you have done this technique to your entire body, make a mental scan to determine if there are any areas that remain tense. If so, move back to those areas and repeat until you feel completely relaxed. 
  • With any luck, you will be so relaxed that you immediately go to sleep. In fact, after some time, you probably won't make it through the entire process before falling asleep, as you will be an expert at relaxing your body quickly. 


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