Relaxation

Relaxation techniques can reduce the sleep disturbances caused by stress.

Stress has numerous consequences and many of these directly or indirectly affect sleep. Insomnia is the most obvious consequence. Stress also can affect blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and these will have consequences for sleep apnea. Stress can affect digestion which impacts sleep. Stress can cause muscle pain and headaches which can degrade sleep.

Stress can be a factor in sleep disruption from movements and can increase parasomnias such as sleep walking. Relaxation can reduce the sleep disturbing consequences of stress.

Relaxation Approaches


Deep Breathing
There is a large variety of breathing exercises that promote relaxation. Often these are combines with meditative techniques. Sometimes they are combined with biofeedback.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This involves alternately tightening and then relaxing different muscle groups .

Yoga and Qigong
Yoga and qigong are both ancient practices, though one comes from the Indian tradition and the other is Chinese in its heritage. Both are also movement practices, though their movements are generally different in function. Yoga, which tends to be moderate to fast-paced, includes strong movements that are held for a period of time and require a certain amount of athleticism. Qigong, on the other hand, is slowly methodical, flows from one movement to another, and can be easily practiced by anyone. One of the main health benefits of both yoga and qigong is that they will both support a meditative state. Yoga uses movements to get there, while qigong creates the meditative state before movements.

Mindfulness Meditation
Focusing your thoughts and letting go of negative thoughts and images.

Guided Imagery
Involves concentrating on a specific image (such as the color and texture of an orange) to focus your mind and make you feel more relaxed.

Biofeedback
There are many types of biofeedback.  The method measures various physiological signals and presents these back to the patient. The patient develops the skill to change the signals as he/she moves towards a relaxed state.  One of the most effective of the biofeedback techniques is Heart Rate Variability (HRV) biofeedback.

Resources

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