As sophomores in high school, a friend and I wrote and recorded a song for Health class all about a relaxation exercise that can play an integral role in getting to sleep. And yes, it was a terrible song!
In this episode, I review a little bit about the benefits of this particular exercise, and an example of how to execute it yourself.
Progressive muscle relaxation or PMR is an exercise of progressively contracting, then relaxing isolated muscle groups. First, it can help with mindful attention, using the muscles as an object to practice focusing on. Secondly, it facilitates mental and physical relaxation by contrasting the intentional loosening of muscles following a period of tension.
Progressive muscle relaxation has been shown to help in chronic pain conditions such as migraines. PMR has been shown to help in multiple contexts, including in the hospital, in the lab, at home, in groups, one-on-one, and individually guided by an app. PMR has been shown to improve quality of sleep and reduce the burden of negative emotions like anxiety and depression. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple studies have already demonstrated the benefits of PMR on sleep for those suffering from the infection.
Feeling better-focused, feeling more physically relaxed, recognizing and reinforcing your own ability to take control of your own relaxed state - this will all help facilitate your ability to sleep well and wake feeling well-rested.