Progressive muscle relaxation can help to reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) while they are in isolation, according to new preliminary research from China. The findings appear in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.
In December 2019, an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus was identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Patients diagnosed with COVID-19 must be quarantined to prevent the disease from infecting others. “Through clinical observation, many patients developed anxiety and sleep disturbances after isolation treatment,” the researchers said.
“Some sleep-promoting drugs may have respiratory depression, and the new coronary virus mainly affects lung tissue, and the use of drugs may increase respiratory depression. Therefore, we use asymptotic muscle relaxation training to alleviate the anxiety and improve sleep quality of patients with COVID-19.”
The new study consisted of 51 patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 who had been admitted to the Hainan Provincial People’s General Hospital from January 1 to February 16, 2020.
Half of the patients learned and then practiced progressive muscle relaxation, a stress reduction method where muscles are individually tensed and relaxed, for about 30 minutes per day for five consecutive days. The remaining patients received only routine care and treatment.
The researchers found that patients who had practiced the relaxation technique tended to have reduced anxiety levels and improved sleep quality after the five days compared to the control group.
“This training can be performed remotely and multiple times after one training session, without directly facing the patient, reducing doctor-patient contact and reducing medical infection risk. Currently, COVID-19 has a large number of cases in South Korea, Japan, Iran, and Italy. I hope our clinical research will be helpful to our country’s clinical treatment and the above countries,” the researchers said.
The study, “Effects of progressive muscle relaxation on anxiety and sleep quality in patients with COVID-19“, was authored by Kai Liu, Ying Chen, Duozhi Wu, Ruzheng Lin, Zaisheng Wang, and Liqing Pan.