Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Learn about this relaxation method that may help improve your sleep.

May 1, 2020

Explore progressive muscle relaxation, an exercise in which you tense and then relax all of the muscle groups in your body. This technique can help promote overall physical relaxation and may even improve your sleep.

How To Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation

  • Make a tight fist with your right hand and hold it for a count of three. On exhale, think the word "relax" and release all the tension in that hand.

  • Using the same technique, one by one, tense and relax muscles in your face: 

    • Forehead: Frown like you’re angry or puzzled. Exhale and smooth it out.
    • Eyes: Screw up your eyes like a baby crying. Exhale and release the tension.
    • Jaw and cheeks: Clench your teeth and jaw like you’re angry. Exhale and relax.

  • Tense and relax the muscles in your torso:

    • Shoulders: Point them up to the ceiling on the inhale. Exhale and relax.
    • Chest: Tighten the chest muscles on a deep inhale, and then let the tension go on the exhale.
    • Abdomen: Tighten your stomach muscles by flexing your abs, then relax.
  • Tense and relax your arms. Make a fist with both hands, tightening your biceps, triceps and forearms. Let the tension go, leaving arms loose and heavy at your side.
  • Tense and relax your legs. Point your toes to the ceiling, tightening your thighs and calves at the same time, before letting all of the tension go. Feel the last bits of tension drain from your whole body.

More Than Just Tired?

If sleeplessness is getting in the way of normal life, you could have a sleep disorder. Talk to your doctor about any symptoms you’re experiencing. For more information about sleep solutions, go to