Being the wellness podcast nerd that I am, I often scroll through Apple’s top 100 podcasts just for fun. It’s there that I first noticed an episode called “Autogenic Relaxation for Sleep,” which has been dominating the list for a few weeks (by my count). The 15-minute sequence was created by Meditation Oasis, and involves drawing attention to how each of your body parts feel from head to toe (e.g., my hips are warm and heavy) as you’re lying between your heavenly soft sheets. Calming music rounds out the listening experience.
Autogenic relaxation is a method developed by psychiatrists defined as “a technique which involves progressive relaxation of the extremities, heartbeat stabilization, and maintenance of slow, deep breaths,” according to anxiety.org. If you’ve ever done a body scan in yoga class or tried the U.S. army’s technique for falling asleep, you’re familiar with the mesmerizing process of checking in with each and every extremity.
A 2002 meta-analysis of 73 studies found autogenic relaxation useful for treating sleep disorders, as well as hypertension, migraines, and anxiety. Best of all, the approach is one you can add to your evergrowing toolkit for calming oneself. Practiced often enough, the autogenic script will automatically kick into gear when your 10 p.m. bedtime calls, or whenever you need to quiet you inner-monologue. It’s as on-demand as your Netflix queue.
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