Tame Your Tension

Breathing and imagery technique helped reduce stress and improve sleep

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Is stress making it hard for you to sleep? Poor sleep can contribute to all sorts of health problems. Reducing stress with relaxation might help sleeping problems as well.

"Using a portable stress reduction technique in short intervals may be a unique approach to improve cardiovascular risk through sleep improvement," the researchers in a recent study concluded.

"Learn relaxation techniques."

The study, led by Mariam Kashani, NP, of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, aimed to find out whether a simple stress reduction technique might help people sleep better.

A total of 334 male and female volunteers were recruited for the test. They were an average age of 56. The participants were assessed using standard scales for their level of stress, sleep quality and fatigue.

Then the participants attended a 30-minute introductory workshop and four additional 30-minute visits with a stress management specialist to learn and practice the Tension Tamer technique.

The technique is a ten-minute exercise that uses deep breathing and imagery.

Following the visits, the participants were surveyed with the same scales for their stress levels, sleep quality and tiredness.

A total of 218 participants (65 percent) improved their stress levels by 6.6 points on a scale from 1 to 56.

The other 116 participants (34 percent) had worse stress levels by 4.6 points on average.

The participants who improved their stress levels had considerably better sleep quality, fell asleep faster (by about 6 minutes) and had less fatigue.

The technique did not work for everyone but it worked for a majority of the participants, who consequently slept better as well.

Poor sleep can contribute to cardiovascular disease, among other problems.

The findings were presented October 22 at CHEST 2012, the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians in Atlanta, Georgia. The findings should be interpreted with caution because they are preliminary and have not been reviewed by other researchers yet.

No information was provided regarding external funding. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

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Review Date: 
October 24, 2012
Last Updated:
October 29, 2012