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Alleviating Insomnia with Progressive Relaxation

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 16 May 2012 | comments*Discuss
Progressive Relaxation Relax Relaxing

Insomnia is a complex but common problem for more people than most realise.
Statistics suggest that as many as one in three people in the UK will have experienced insomnia in the previous year, and as many as one in ten will experience the chronic form of insomnia.

Symptoms of insomnia:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Frequent waking during the night
  • Difficulty returning to sleep
  • Waking too early
  • Unrefreshed sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Racing mind
  • Tiredness throughout the day
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability

Progressive Relaxation

Progressive relaxation can help alleviate insomnia because it works with the total body and mind to eliminate stress, systematically relax all the body's muscles and help you unwind from the tensions of the working day.
  1. Lie on your back with your arms a little way from your sides. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm and listen to your breathing.
  2. Now, focus on your feet, clench your toes tightly and arch your feet back to your ankles. Hold the muscles tight for two breaths. Now, relax and breathe deeply for a moment.
  3. Stretch out your legs, locking your knees and tightening your thigh muscles. Hold for two breaths then relax and breathe deeply. As you breathe feel the tension flowing form your muscles.
  4. Next, focus on your abdomen. Pull in your tummy muscles as tightly as you can and clench your buttocks. Visualize your muscles in a tight knot. Hold for two breaths, then relax and take a couple of long, deep breaths. As you relax, visualize the knot of muscle loosening and your energy flowing freely.
  5. Now pull up your diaphragm, tighten the muscles in your chest and upper back and hold for two breaths. As you relax, feel your diaphragm expanding; focus on your lungs filling with air then pushing the tension out as you exhale.
  6. Now hunch your shoulders up to your ear, push your neck down into your shoulders. Imagine the knots of tension in your neck and shoulders as tightly coiled snakes. As you relax and breathe slowly, imagine the snakes uncoiling and slithering away down your arms.
  7. Tighten your arms and stretch them out from the sides of your body. After two breaths relax and visualize your breath circulating from your chest down your shoulders, into your hands.
  8. Now make tight fists and bend your hands outward form the wrists. Keep those fingers tight for two breaths then relax. Wiggle your fingers slowly as the tension slips away.
  9. This time open your mouth and eyes wide; stick your tongue out as far as you can. Tighten your scalp and hold for two breaths. Now relax your face muscles and breathe deeply.
  10. By now your body should be feeling much more relaxed. Lie still and breathe deeply until you are ready to sleep.

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