National Sleep Foundation

Chapter 2: Insomnia

CBT – Relaxation

Relaxation Therapy

Relaxation techniques are useful in reducing both somatic activation (e.g., muscle tension) and cognitive activation (e.g., intrusive thoughts) that can lead to insomnia.1

Common relaxation techniques to help address insomnia focus on breathing and progressive muscle relaxation (i.e., tensing and relaxing specific muscle groups). Meditation is also very helpful for decreasing cognitive arousal and addressing insomnia.

Patients with insomnia typically need about six individual sessions with a therapist to learn these relaxation techniques.2, 3, 4, 5 


  1. Morin CM. Cognitive-behavioral approaches to the treatment of insomnia. J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;65(suppl 16):33-40.
  2. Edinger JD, Hoelscher TJ, Marsh GR, Lipper S, Ionescu-Pioggia M. A cognitive-behavioral therapy for sleep-maintenance insomnia in older adults. Psychol Aging. 1992;7:282-289.
  3. Morin CM, Colecchi C, Stone J, Sood R, Brink D. Behavioral and pharmacological therapies for late-life insomnia: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 1999;281:991-999.
  4. Edinger JD, Wohlgemuth WK, Radtke RA, March GR, Quillian RE. Cognitive behavioral therapy for treatment of chronic primary insomnia: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2001;285:1856-1864.
  5. Edinger JD, Wohlgemuth WK, Krystal AD, Rice JR. Behavioral insomnia therapy for fibromyalgia patients: a randomized clinical trial. Arch Intern Med. 2005;165:2527-2535.