Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Sleep

Many people in my sleep clinic report lying in bed unable to sleep, having insomnia. This happens either at the beginning or middle of the night. For people who are thinking a lot, the Gratitude Meditation from last week can be helpful.

Another technique to help you fall asleep is called Progressive Muscle Relaxation. I recommend this for the people who report tossing and turning in bed. The benefit of Progressive Muscle Relaxation is that it both occupies the mind and relaxes the body. Below are the instructions, you can use this natural technique whatever time you are awake in bed.

  1. Starting with your toes, tighten a muscle group for a count of 8, then relax it fully, allowing those muscles to feel heavy and sink into the bed.
  2. Focus your mind on clenching your muscles and slowly counting. Gently turn away other thoughts.
  3. Next, slowly move up to the next muscle group, your calves. Repeat.
  4. Continue moving up your body through legs, abdomen, bottom, hands, arms, back, jaw, face.
  5. Be sure to continue breathing regularly during this practice.

People regularly find that they are asleep before they complete the entire sequence.

2 thoughts on “Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Sleep

  1. Henna

    I find that the step #2 is the most difficult one. I couldn’t concentrate on the breathing because my mind will start to wonder and I forgot that I was doing relaxation.

    1. Dr. Catherine Darley

      Hi Henna,
      You’re right, the mind can wonder. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is one of those skills that gets better and easier with time, so I encourage you to keep with it for a month. That’s how long they say it takes to develop a new habit, right? Anyone else have experience or words of wisdom to share on this?


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