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Natural Cures for Insomnia : Progressive Muscle Relaxation

by Justice Smith / May 02, 2016 / category : insomnia / 8683 views
Natural Cures for Insomnia : Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive Muscle Relaxation is one of the simplest techniques for relaxation. It teaches you to relax your muscles with an easy two-step process. When you realize that physical relaxation brings mental calmness, you will understand why this works.

First you should consult with your physician for if you have a history of serious injuries, back problems or other muscular problems, doing these exercises can exacerbate pre-existing conditions. If you do these procedures against your doctor’s advice, you do so at your own risk.

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The two steps in this self-administered procedure are deliberately tensing muscle groups, then releasing the induced tension. Once you learn the procedure, you should spend 10 minutes a day practicing a shortened form of the routine to say in practice. For the first week, it is recommended that you practice the full routine twice a day before moving on to the shortened form.

When you practice, it’s wise to follow these suggestions:
1) Practice in a quiet place with no distractions, not even background music.
2) Wear loose clothing
3) Remove your shoes
4) Don’t drink, eat or smoke right before practice
5) Never practice this while under the influence of alcohol
6) Sit in a comfortable chair or lying down in bed
7) Get up slowly so you don’t experience a drop in blood pressure and thus feel faint.

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You will be working with virtually all the major muscle groups in your body. You should start from your feet and work upwards. Here is the sequence recommended:

1) Right foot
2) Right lower leg and foot
3) Entire right leg
4) Left foot
5) Left lower leg and foot
6) Entire left leg
7) Right hand
8) Right forearm and hand
9) Entire right arm
10) Left hand
11) Left forearm and hand
12) Entire left arm
13) Abdomen
14) Chest
15) Neck and shoulders
16) Face
17) Begin with your left side if you are left handed

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Here is the procedure:

Step One: Tension. Focus your mind on the muscle group; for example, your right hand. Then inhale and simply squeeze the muscles as hard as you can for about 8 seconds. For example, if you are working with your right hand, this would involve making a tight fist with your hand.

It may seem difficult to learn to take responsibility for your body’s mechanics, and beginners have a hard time allowing muscles in the intended group to tense. But you will become better with practice. For now, do the best you can. This is all part of the overall PMR learning process. You will become skilled at recognizing the fine muscles as distinct from the rest.

It’s important to really feel the tension. Sometimes the procedure will cause the muscles to start to shake, and you will feel some pain. Don’t hurt yourself. Always contract the muscles in your feet and your back carefully; i.e., gently but deliberately.

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Step Two: Releasing the Tension. This is fun because it is so pleasurable. After the 8 seconds, just quickly and suddenly let go. Let all the tightness and pain flow out of the muscles while you simultaneously exhale.

You will be imagining tightness and pain flowing out of your hand through your fingertips as you exhale. Concentrate to feel the muscles relax. Feel them become loose and limp. Be sure to notice the difference between tension and relaxation. You are focusing on learning to make very subtle distinctions between muscular tension and muscular relaxation.

Stay relaxed for about 15 seconds. Then you will repeat the tension-relaxation cycle.

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Once you have the above down, and you have more of an understanding of the muscle groups and the procedure, you are ready to begin the full PMR training.

Follow the list of muscle groups in the sequence below. Work through your entire body. Practice twice a day for a week. Once you achieve a deep sense of physical relaxation; then you can move on to the Shortened PMR schedule.

In the shortened version, you’ll be working with summary groups of muscles rather than individual muscle groups, and begin to use cue-controlled relaxation. There are four summary muscle groups and these are the lower limbs; the abdomen and chest; the arms, shoulders and neck; and the face. You will focus here on the complete group.

Cue-controlled relaxation:. In this procedure, you will use the same tensionrelaxation procedure as in the full PMR, but you will work with the summary groups of muscles. You will also put more focus on your breathing during both tension and relaxation.

Inhale slowly as you apply and hold the tension. Then, when you let the tension go and exhale, say a cue word to yourself . Some suggestions for cue words/phrases include: “Relax,” “Let it go,” “It’s okay,” etc.

After you have practiced for about a week and twice daily, you will have enough proficiency to practice it under other conditions and with distractions.

You can then move on to the final process of Deep Muscle Relaxation. In this process, you use your imagination, starting at the top of your head and then working down through your body, and think of and then relax the various muscle groups using your cue word(s).

There are other approaches toward combating insomnia that can work well too.

Other Alternatives

There are three other techniques that can help you improve your sleep habits. These are the following:

Stimulus control therapy comes from the idea that a person with chronic insomnia starts to associate bedtime and the bedroom with not being able to sleep. The whole idea of stimulus control comes into play by only using the bedroom for sleeping, nothing else. If you are awake, you leave the bedroom and go somewhere else. You will limit the time spent in the bedroom for any nonsleep activities.

Another approach is Paradoxical intention. Using this approach, you do the opposite of what you want or fear and take it to the extreme. Rather than trying unsuccessfully to go to sleep night after night, try to stay awake and do something instead. This is confronting the fear and hopefully, eliminating it.

Sleep restriction is based on the idea that people require different amounts of sleep. Someone with insomnia often stays in bed thinking that they will get more sleep, but this really is just increasing frustration and making sleep more difficult. In Sleep restriction therapy the amount of non-sleeping time a person spends in bed is reduced. The insomniac determines his average total sleep time for two weeks, then only spends the time he has spent sleeping on the average in bed each night. No TV for two hours before falling asleep.

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