meditation

Is Relaxation Training Hocus-Pocus?

I am frequently asked about the evidence for relaxation training. The concept of relaxation training has been around for many years and much research is available in the scientific and medical literature to support and recommend its use, not only for insomnia, anxiety, stress and depression but also for chronic painful conditions.

According to Wikipedia:

relaxation technique (also known as relaxation training) is any method, process, procedure, or activity that helps a person to relax; to attain a state of increased calmness; or otherwise reduce levels of anxietystress or anger. Relaxation techniques are often employed as one element of a wider stress management program and can decrease muscle tension, lower the blood pressure and slow heart and breath rates, among other health benefits.[1]

Read the whole article here:

Read the article from Helpguide, a non-profit resource:

See what people at the Mayo Clinic have to say about relaxation techniques:

Watch the Mayo Clinic video: Mayo Clinic Video on Yoga for Relaxation

Peer reviewed medical and scientific literature is cited here for those who are skeptical and think of relaxation training as hocus-pocus:

J Psychiatr Pract. 2008 Nov;14(6):403-7.

Sleeping without a pill: nonpharmacologic treatments for insomnia.

Source

UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine/Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA. lkierlin@mednet.ucla.edu

Abstract

Insomnia is a complaint of patients seen in many medical settings, but it is particularly prevalent in patients who present to mental health practitioners. When choosing an intervention for insomnia, physicians often turn to pharmacological management options as their primary strategy, with other modalities only considered secondarily, if at all. Medications for insomnia, which include benzodiazepines, nonbenzodiazepines, and antihistamines, have been found to have both varying degrees of efficacy as well as side-effect profiles that may limit their use. In recent years, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has studied nonpharmacologic interventions for insomnia and found evidence to support their use in achieving sustained improvements in sleep parameters over time. Methods such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, stimulus-control therapy, relaxation, paradoxical intention, and sleep restriction are efficacious treatments that mental health practitioners can consider in the treatment of insomnia. Researchers are only beginning to review evidence concerning complementary and alternative medicine therapies (CAM); however, given the preponderance of patients who may be employing these techniques for insomnia, it is important that clinicians be familiar with these approaches, which merit further study. This article reviews nonpharmacologic treatments for insomnia that are available to mental health practitioners as well as primary care providers, either via direct application of the techniques or by referral. The evidence for each of these modalities is presented in an effort to expand the treating physician's armamentarium beyond sole use of the medications traditionally used to treat insomnia.

J Psychiatr Res. 2012 Nov;46(11):1456-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2012.08.007. Epub 2012 Aug 30.

Comparison of relaxation training with a cognitive-behavioural intervention for indicated prevention of depression in university students: A randomized controlled trial.

Source

Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, University of Santiago de Compostela, Campus Vida, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Electronic address: fernandolino.vazquez@usc.es.

Abstract

Although cognitive-behavioural programmes for preventing depression have produced promising findings, their administration requires extensive training. Relaxation techniques are more straightforward psychological strategies, but they have not been investigated in the prevention of depression. This trial aimed to compare the results of relaxation training (RT) with that of a cognitive-behavioural programme (CBT) for prevention of depression in university students with elevated depressive symptoms. The 133 participants (mean age 23.3 years, 82% women) were randomly assigned to CBT or RT. Both programmes were administered to groups of 5 or 6 participants in eight weekly 90-min sessions. Participants were evaluated by independent raters before, immediately after, and 3 and 6 months after taking part in the programmes. By itself, intervention type had no significant effect on either depression or anxiety scores. The scores were lower at the follow-up time points with respect to pre-intervention scores. Effect size was greatest between pre- and immediately post-intervention scores for CBT, d = 1.32, 95% CI [1.00, 1.64], and between pre- and 6-month post-intervention scores for RT, d = 0.75, 95% CI [0.47, 1.03]. Anxiety symptoms were significantly improved by both interventions at 3-month follow-up, and by CBT at 6-month follow-up also. In the medium term (3-6 months), relaxation training produced similar reductions in depressive and anxiety symptoms as a more complex cognitive-behavioural programme.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID:

 22939979

[PubMed - in process]

 Am J Health Promot. 2012 Jul-Aug;26(6):e149-58. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.110516-QUAL-199.

Psychological and physiological response of students to different types of stress management programs.

Source

Cátedra de Química Analítica Instrumental, Facultad de Farmacia y Bioquímica, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina. siglesia@ffyb.uba.ar

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To design, implement, and examine the psychoneuroendocrine responses of three different types of stress management programs.

DESIGN:

Randomly assigned. A pre/post experimental design comparing variables between three different programs and a control group. The first program included training in deep breathing, relaxation response, meditation, and guided imagery techniques (RRGI). The second program included training in cognitive behavioral techniques (CB). The third program included both RRGI and CB (RRGICB).

SETTING:

The study was conducted at Buenos Aires University.

SUBJECTS:

Participants (N  = 52) were undergraduate students.

MEASURES:

Anxiety, anger, hopelessness, neuroticism, respiration rate, and salivary cortisol levels were assessed.

ANALYSIS:

Wilcoxon signed rank test was used to investigate differences in pre and post variables.

RESULTS:

Subjects in the RRGI group showed significantly lower levels of anxiety (p < .011), anger (p < .012), neuroticism (p < .01), respiratory rate (p < .002), hopelessness (p < .01), and salivary cortisol (p < .002) after the treatment. Subjects in the CB group showed significantly lower levels of anxiety (p < .018), anger (p < .037), and neuroticism (p < .03) after the treatment. Subjects in the RRGICB group showed significantly lower levels of anxiety (p < .001), anger (p < .001), neuroticism (p < .008), hopelessness (p < .01), respiratory rate (p < .001), and salivary cortisol (p < .002) after the treatment. Subjects in the control group showed only one variable modification, a significant increase in cortisol levels (p < .004).

CONCLUSIONS:

The combination of deep breathing, relaxation response, meditation, and guided imagery techniques with CB seems to be effective at helping people to deal with stress.

PMID:

 22747323

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Sehatu Sleep Granite Bay CADeep Relaxation Training at Sehatu Sleep, designed with sleep medicine and psychology principles, empowers people by giving them skills to turn the mind switch on and off on command and to relax when needed. Classes can be attended via Skype.

Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio, located in Granite Bay, CA,  also provides a variety of Yoga classes, including Yin, Gentle and Restorative Yoga, as well as Meditation classes, for individuals who are interested in practicing a healthy lifestyle at any age, starting at any time in their life at any skill level. 

Case Studies In The "I Don't Have A Sleep Problem But I Am Always Tired Syndrome"

" I had my eyes open but it seems I was just dazed while driving. When I hit the curb it startled me. I really don't want to have a bad accident like this. What's happening to me? I searched on the internet. Could I be having seizures?

" I get dizzy sometimes when I stand up suddenly. I also get a lot of headaches. Could I have a brain tumor? I crave food all day long but I don't like eating breakfast except for a can of Coke, and then I have a Rockstar at lunch. I have a mean teacher in school. The class is so boring I keep falling asleep. My grades are dropping but that's because of my teacher."

" I doze off at work and can't help it. My supervisor is mad at me. I have no idea why that happens. I try my best to stay alert at work. Please help me. I don't want to lose my job."

" I operate heavy machinery. I drink energy drinks every hour to stay alert. When I go home I have lots of chores to do. By that time I feel I am completely spent. It seems that my body is just falling apart. I used to have so much energy.

" I don't need much sleep. I wake up on my own at 3 am. My mind is ready to go. I do my problem solving at that time. But my mind stops working later in the day. I don't know what's wrong with me. My blood sugar levels keep fluctuating and my blood pressure has been high. It never used to be like this. Whats happening to me?"

" I nurse my baby twice at night, and in between I sleep really soundly. But I am really tired with no energy all day. I have not even gone back to work yet but I get so tired just doing the small chores at home with my baby during the day. I try to nap when she is sleeping but it is so hard to turn off the mind just any time.  Could I be depressed?"

" I have no time for fun in a day. I go to school, then sports, then I do home work. I am so tired. Life is a drag. All I can do to socialize is be on facebook and text my friends when I am in bed. They are all up till 2 am. They don't have any problems, and it takes me a long time to fall asleep any way. Why am I having problems?"

" I drink half a pot of coffee in the morning and a couple of cans of soda in the afternoon. I like the taste of these drinks. I have put on 20 pounds in the last year. I think I need to exercise more. I sleep just fine. I need to have the TV on all night to sleep well and I wake up to go to the bathroom a couple times. No big deal, right?"

" I just crave chocolate. I love desserts. I have put on a lot of weight and I feel tired all the time. I sleep just fine but I am not a morning person. Everyone in my family is that way. Our minds work best at night."

" My whole family is feeling a lack of energy. We are all a tired, sickly bunch. Could it be something toxic in our house, like black mold? My wife snores so loudly she keeps waking me up. She says I snore even louder. My son snores too. Its so funny our house sounds like a train station at night. It's hilarious. "

" I am under a lot of stress. I am having trouble at my job because I can't finish my projects in time ever. My girlfriend is not happy with me because I have completely lost interest in sex. I am so tired all the time. I sleep fine. It just takes me a couple hours to fall asleep so I watch TV in bed. Is that a problem?"

" My husband is the one with the sleep problem not me. He works on his computer all night. I have started sleeping in a separate room because I have to go to work the next morning. I let my cat crawl into bed with me. I don't like to be alone in bed. What I don't get is why I feel I have no energy? I can't enjoy anything any more. My regular doctor prescribed an antidepressant but it has not helped so far. Could I have some bad disease?"

Sleep is the glue that holds the body and mind together. They did not realize it until they saw a sleep doctor who could put two and two together for them.

Its time to wake up from the slumber! Pun intended.

Deep Relaxation Training at Sehatu Sleep, designed with sleep medicine and psychology principles, empowers people by giving them skills to turn the mind switch on and off on command and to relax when needed. Classes can be attended via Skype.

Sehatu Sleep Granite Bay CASehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio, located in Granite Bay, CA,  also provides a variety of Yoga classes, including Yin, Gentle and Restorative Yoga, as well as Meditation classes, for individuals who are interested in practicing a healthy lifestyle at any age, starting at any time in their life at any skill level. 

 

 

Is Retirement A Ticket to Freedom From The Rules of Life?

"I am retired. I earned it. I have no worries. I can do what I want, right?"

If you are fortunate enough to be financially, physically and emotionally secure in retirement, does it truly mean freedom?

I have had a number of patients lately, retired, relatively healthy individuals, complaining of being tired all the time, with no energy to participate in activities by themselves or with their partners in life. They feel sick, unhealthy, as if their bodies are all of a sudden falling apart. Their relationships are badly affected. All other factors being equal, the common characteristic among them has been the sense of being free from the rules the body was designed to follow.

Of course, my area of interest being sleep, that is the issue I am concerned with here. Once retired, these individuals having undergone a dramatic shift in their daily routine and lose track of what they need to do to stay healthy, energized and functioning.

They have variable bed times, wake up when they want, go to sleep when they want, take naps during the day when they want or even uncontrollably fall asleep for being sleep deprived. Caffeine, alcohol, Benadryl, antidepressants and sleeping pills are frequently being used. They often have planned well financially to live in retirement but in the process of making enough money to retire, they failed to plan for activites that would give them the motivation to keep on living a healthy life. They have either no hobbies and no planned activites, or have interests that are sedentary.

In contrast, I mistakenly believed for a long time that the only major age group susceptible to this problem was young adults and adolescents. In fact retirees seem to be suffering even more. Aging bodies, even if otherwise healthy, require better upkeep, maintenance and care. Younger bodies can take a lot of beating and still keep ticking.

If you are retired or close to retirement, know that if you retire in your 60's, you may have another forty or more years to live if you take care of yourself. You want those years to be healthy, happy and functional. To achieve that goal, you need a daily routine of activities. Scheduled exercise, yoga, meditation and participation in social activities are all included.

If you are young and retirement seems like a distant future, plan ahead; not only financially for those forty years after retirement, but to stay alive, healthy, happy and able to care for yourself. Cultivate some active interests. Learn some skills and develop hobbies and interests that are unrelated to your area of work. Keeping active and on a daily routine during retirement keeps you young. You owe it to yourself.

(Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio provides Gentle, Restorative and Yin Yoga classes, as well as Meditation classes for individuals who are interested in practicing a healthy lifestyle at any age, starting at any time in their life with any skill level.

Deep Relaxation Training at Sehatu Sleep, designed with sleep medicine and psychology principles in mind, empowers people by giving them skills to turn the mind switch on and off on command and to relax when needed.)  

 

Sehatu Sleep Yoga Warriors...do not be afraid!

“Rejoicing in the ordinary things is not simple or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior's world.” Pema Chodron

I never fully know why I choose one particular quote verses another to leave at the end of students' mats after one of my classes. Except, it is often something I feel for myself or want to remember for myself a certain day and figure... because we are all the same... it might strike a similar chord for someone else. If not today, then maybe, on just the right day this little quote, this little slip of paper, will appear.

I realize today's quote by Pema Chodron was especially meaningful because we had so many “first time ever practicing Yoga” students in the Sehatu Sleep studio. New Yoga Warriors giving themselves ninety minutes of union with self and some self-care on a beautiful summer morning.

I will never forget what guts it took for me to get up the courage to enter my first Yoga class. And, I guess, all my “complaints” were about myself and the way I thought I had to be, or the thoughts about the way I was not that prevented an earlier Yoga journey. I thought I had to know Yoga “stuff” like how to do all the moves, etc. So, I waited until I had done Yoga tapes on my VCR at home and read a Yoga flip book that showed a practice. I fully realize, even though I had several Yoga studios in the area where I grew up, I was afraid. Afraid, I guess, to do something “wrong”...who knows, it is hard to understand fears that are really just thoughts.

So,I started my own Yoga journey much later at a gym and then took, what I perceived as, another big step and entered a Yoga studio. As I am certain today's students found, and, as I know I found in my first class: I did not need to know any “stuff”, I am enough just as I am today, and there is nothing scary about a Yoga studio, nothing scary at all. They are actually quite welcoming and sweet. And, it is their job and their purpose to share with you how you might do Yoga stuff. Rejoice.

(I do still hold a little wish I had started practicing Yoga earlier and entered the Warrior's World of Yoga in community back in the day. Even though I know, as Yoga has taught me, whatever day you do choose, is the perfect day for you!)

Congratulations Sehatu Sleep Yoga students...you are Warriors.

Which one works best for insomnia: Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata ..... or a golf club?

 

 

"There is no difference between taking a sleeping pill or asking someone to club you on the head"

The inability to fall or stay asleep, or waking up too early and then feeling the effects of sleep deprivation is commonly termed insomnia. The cost of insomnia to the US economy is estimated at over $35 billion each year. There are many types and many causes of insomnia. The commonest problem by far, is a state of mind called "hyper arousal" in which the person feels their mind continues to work and be active, even if they are not worried about anything. The problem tends to run in families, affects millions of people and affects smart people more, should that be consolation to some.

Since doctors have few tools to work with besides medicine, they tend to offer their patients the least addictive of the sleeping pills they know of, but end up in a wild goose chase of changing doses, managing side effects and development of tolerance to the sleep inducing effects. The pharmaceutical industry has also found insomnia therapy to be a major money maker. Ambien, also known by its generic name Zolpidem is one of the most commonly prescribed sleeping pills. The ever present Lunesta commercial on TV has inspired many comedy show spoofs. Trazodone has been used for many years. Ativan, Valium, Seroquel, Risperdal, Restoril; there are so many . Never mind the dozens of so called "natural" remedies, supplements (a chemical is a chemical, call it natural or pharmaceutical), gadgets, even iphone apps. None of these however address the issue of hyper arousal of the mind or do so ineffectively over the long term.

Research has shown over and over that sleeping pills i.e. "clubbing your head", works for short periods of time only. Cognitive behavior therapy, relaxation training, stress management techniques including yoga and meditation work better, and work long term. The problem so far has been that trained therapists are hard to find and even harder to make health insurance companies pay for it.

Uniquely, Sehatu Sleep, a small start up company in Northern California, has taken up this challenge. They offer on site and online, "Deep Relaxation Training" to empower insomniacs, to calm their minds and get restful sleep. No chemicals, no gadgets, no gimmicks. This, is what we need, not clubs on our heads!