Paul Abraham: The end of the day routine for better sleep

Paul Abraham, speaking at Bramley Lawn.

By Paul Abraham of

After a stressful and hectic day our mind and body can be especially fatigued. The extra stress within your body can lead to a variety of painful physical symptoms.

Fortunately, there’s a well-supported technique that can easily fit in to your day and can help you feel more at ease.

One of the major effects of stress is muscle tension and chronic muscle tension can lead to headaches, back pain, cramps and aches all over the body as well as contributing to insomnia, which further adds to our stress.

If your muscles are tightening up in the face of stress, you may benefit from a technique known as PMR – Progressive Muscle Relaxation.

PMR is a quick and easy way to relax physically and emotionally. A typical practice takes less than ten minutes, although you can spend longer if you have the time. Do as much as you feel able to manage – even a brief session can help you relax during stressful times.

Although it’s helpful at any time of the day, PMR is best used before bedtime to improve your sleep.

If we’re habitually tense, it can be hard to fully relax. PMR involves clenching groups of muscles tightly, and then relaxing them – which creates a greater sense of release.

If you have an injury, first ask your doctor whether this is a safe practice for you. PMR should be done sitting down as you can relax, or lying down, which may result in you nodding off before the end

Tighten your arm in the “bicep flexing” pose, with your hand clenched as well, then relax.

Repeat both exercises for your other arm.

Tighten your buttocks, then relax.

Suck in your stomach, then relax.

Take a deep breath to tighten your chest, then relax.

Squeeze your shoulders up to your ears, then relax.

Stretch your mouth, open wide then relax.

Squeeze your eyes tight shut, then relax.

Raise your eyebrows high, then relax.

As American physician and founder of PMR Edmund Jacobson said: “An anxious mind cannot exist in a relaxed body.”


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