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Autogenic Training for Sleeping Well

Updated on May 14, 2016

If you have trouble sleeping, you’re probably anxious for a solution. Sleep problems can not only make you tired; they can have negative effects on your health in a number of ways. They’re also very difficult for many people to solve, often because trouble sleeping is tied to stress. The more you worry about not sleeping, the more stressed you become, and the harder time you have falling asleep.

It’s a vicious cycle that often requires addressing the root problem of stress. Autogenic training is a relaxation technique that many people have used successfully to cure their sleep problems. It takes time to master, so it may not be for everyone. However, it can be a great alternative to sleep medicationsand can help you to deal with all of your stress and, of course, your trouble sleeping.

What Is Autogenic Training?

Autogenic training is a kind of relaxation technique that was developed in Germany in the 1930s. The goal of the training is to teach your body to relax at your command. The technique involves six short sessions that aim to create deep relaxation. During each session, the practitioner gets into a comfortable position (such as reclining or lying down) and using visualization techniques to relax the body.

As you progress through the exercise, you create a warm and heavy feeling throughout your body, which creates a feeling of deep relaxation. When working properly, autogenic training will lower your blood pressure, slow your heart rate, and actually promote a healthy immune system and digestion. These effects are what make it helpful for treating anxiety and other stress-related problems including sleep disorders.

How Can Autogenic Training Help Sleep Problems?

For many people, stress is very closely tied to their sleep problems. Stress elevates the level of the hormone cortisol in your body, which in turn releases energy. This can make it very difficult to fall asleep and sleep soundly. Autogenic Training can help you to reduce stress in both the short and long term. You can practice a session immediately before bed to relax your body before trying to fall asleep.

If you are committed to practicing autogenic training in the long term, you’ll find that it will help you to cope with your general stress and with how you respond to stressful situations. This can improve not only your sleep, but your general health and wellbeing.

How Can I Learn the Autogenic Training Exercises?

The main downside to autogenic training is that it takes a long time to learn. The sessions themselves are short: only about 15 minutes. However, to actually master the technique usually takes months. Johannes Heinrich Schultz, who created autogenic training, said that the technique should take a year to fully master. Today, many teachers and online courses have condensed the principles of autogenic training and claim that it can be learned in three to six months.


If you want to use autogenic training, you’ll need to commit to practicing it on a regular basis for a few months before you start to get substantial results. The process of learning is fairly simple. You can find a teacher in person, or there are many resources and session guides available online. A typical session only takes about 15 minutes, and you’ll typically practice six sessions a day. You’ll get into a comfortable pose and repeat relaxing phrases to calm different part of your body.

You might start by focusing, for example, on just one leg. After a few days of practice, you’ll move on to the other leg. It’s a slow and thorough system that teaches your body to react to your cues. For some people, this drawn-out system is not effective. If you are patient and can commit to focusing on daily sessions for a good length of time, you may find that autogenic training significantly helps your sleeping problems.

Autogenic training - guided relaxation


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    • Sam Shepards profile image

      Sam Shepards 21 months ago from Europe

      I'm not consistent in most of the things I do in life. Except maybe endless pursuit for knowledge and learning. Anyway, my mother suffers from sleep issues and has been on sleep medications and anti-depressants for greater parts of her life. I try to help out with researching some sleep tips, tricks and even therapy. Some things really help. Also just learning not to worry too much about not falling to sleep fast. Eating and drinking habits. Relaxation techniques. Many people who have a lot of issues and problems in life also fail to be consistent and keep a system going.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting. That constant practicing part is crucial.