Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), sleep, and recovery in elite performers

      Background: Sleep was viewed as vital for athletes’ recovery at the 2012 Olympic Games, and the efforts of the sports science and psychology staff at the Australian Olympic team's recovery centre included the use of progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) as a relaxation strategy to offset the psychological (cognitive) and physical (somatic) stressors experienced by the athletes. Major competitions are too infrequent and competition samples inaccessible, therefore the present study was conceptualised as an investigation into the effectiveness of PMR as a non-pharmacologic sleep strategy in the wake of the banning of selected pharmacologic sleep aides for Olympic athletes. Although widely used with elite performers as a recovery and sleep aide, there is currently no empirical evidence to support PMR use with this unique population. The effect of trait anxiety has been implicated in sleep onset problems in general populations, but not in a performance sample. Therefore the focus of this study was to evaluate the effects of a PMR intervention on the sleep onset latency (SOL) of performers with high trait anxiety.
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