Progressive relaxation for sleep is a technique I began practicing years ago for myself. I initially utilized Ipad apps with guided meditation that incorporated progressive relaxation, I opt for the self-guided method now. This is a technique that I still find to be beneficial for sleep on those nights my mind will not go to sleep.
How to Perform Progressive Relaxation for Sleep
You will want to find a comfortable spot where you will not feel the need to move or adjust yourself. Cover with your blanket if this is how you prefer to sleep. Have your lights off or at least dim them. You can self-guide listening to your own thoughts or you can search for progressive relaxation on your phone’s app store.
If you are opt for the self-guided approach, which can be performed anywhere you choose without the need for a phone , here is what you will be saying to yourself. Slowly work step by step until your whole body is relaxed.
- In the name of God (or whatever your faith preference is ), Most Gracious, Most Merciful, I seek refuge in you
- My feet are relaxed, (one full and slow breath) my feet are relaxed
- Tense your calves and let go thinking, my calves are relaxed, my calves are relaxed
- My thighs are relaxed, (one full and slow breath) my thighs are relaxed
- Squeeze your behind and let go, my lower body is relaxed (breathe) my lower body is relaxed
- Focus on your stomach moving in and out for two breaths
- My stomach is relaxed, (breathe) my stomach is relaxed
- My lower back is relaxed, (breathe) my lower back is relaxed
- Tense your arms and chest and let go, my chest and arms are relaxed, (breathe) my chest and arms are relaxed
- My back is relaxing, (breathe) my back is relaxing and I feel my body sinking into the bed
- My face and head is relaxed, (breathe) my face and head is relaxed
- I am relaxed, I am safe
You can edit these words to what you prefer, the idea is to walk yourself mentally from your toes to your head relaxing your body with occasional tensing that you release fully. Some people have variations on this such as they make fists and release those. You should edit your thoughts to fit what will be most relaxing and easy for you.
While you are doing this exercise, you are also focusing your mind on your relaxation instead of thinking about the tasks you have to get done in the morning or what went wrong today.
Once you reach this state of physical relaxation, you may feel warm and heavy. This is normal , remind yourself that you are safe if you start to tense up again. Allow yourself to drift into sleep.
Photo by Arizona Parrot