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MS research update - Less fatigue and better sleep after using the Progressive Muscle Relaxation Technique - 26 September 2012

Fatigue and sleep problems are very common in people with MS. A technique called the Progressive Muscle Relaxation Technique (PMRT) has been used for people with a range of conditions and found to be helpful. It involves closing your eyes before tensing a particular muscle group then relaxing again. Different muscle groups are tensed then relaxed in turn. You are asked to concentrate on the feeling of the tense muscles before relaxing them. The physical relaxation is accompanied by a mental relaxation which decreases anxiety and helps sleep. Better sleep then decreases fatigue the next day.

In this study, PMRT was tested to see if it could help people with MS who experienced difficulties with sleep and fatigue. 32 people with MS completed questionnaires to assess their levels of fatigue and the quality of their sleep before learning PMRT. They completed the questionnaires again after practicing PMRT every day for 6 weeks.

The researchers found that there was a significant improvement in sleep quality and a decrease in levels of fatigue.

Dayapoğlu N, Tan M, et al.
Evaluation of the effect of progressive relaxation exercises on fatigue and sleep quality in patients with multiple sclerosis.
J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Sep 11. [Epub ahead of print]

Learn more

Vicki Matthews, MS Specialist nurse, has created two relaxing, calming sessions that you can try for yourself.

  • One session is an audio file that you can either listen to online or download as an MP3 file. It lasts 12 minutes.
  • The second session is a video clip lasting about 8 minutes which uses the Progressive Muscle Relaxation Technique. It can take a bit of practice, like learning any new skill, but can be very helpful.

Learn more about relaxation in our A-Z of MS, which includes these two sessions

You can read more about fatigue in the A-Z of MS and read, download or order a copy of our book Living with fatigue.

You can read more about sleep difficulties in MS, the possible reasons for poor sleep and ways to improve sleep quality. 

Research by topic areas...

MS relapses

Moore P, Hirst C, Harding KE, et al.
Multiple sclerosis relapses and depression.
J Psychosom Res. 2012 Oct;73(4):272-6.

Disease modifying treatments

Vennegoor A, Rispens T, Strijbis EM, et al.
Clinical relevance of serum natalizumab concentration and anti-natalizumab antibodies in multiple sclerosis.
Mult Scler. 2012 Sep 19. [Epub ahead of print]

Gold R, Kappos L, Arnold DL, et al.
Placebo-controlled phase 3 study of oral BG-12 for relapsing multiple sclerosis.
N Engl J Med. 2012 Sep 20;367(12):1098-107.

Fox RJ, Miller DH, Phillips JT, et al.
Placebo-controlled phase 3 study of oral BG-12 or glatiramer in multiple sclerosis.
N Engl J Med. 2012 Sep 20;367(12):1087-97.

Garattini S, Bertelé V, Banzi R, et al.
Placebo? no thanks, it might be bad for me!
Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2012 Sep 16. [Epub ahead of print]

Other treatments

Shaygannejad V, Janghorbani M, Ashtari F, et al.
Comparison of the effect of aspirin and amantadine for the treatment of fatigue in multiple sclerosis: a randomized, blinded, crossover study.
Neurol Res. 2012 Sep 12. [Epub ahead of print]


Sajedi SA, Abdollahi F.
Geomagnetic disturbances may be environmental risk factor for multiple sclerosis: an ecological study of 111 locations in 24 countries.
BMC Neurol. 2012 Sep 24;12(1):100. [Epub ahead of print]

Rasmussen TA, Jørgensen MR, Bjerrum S, et al.
Use of population based background rates of disease to assess vaccine safety in childhood and mass immunisation in Denmark: nationwide population based cohort study.
BMJ. 2012 Sep 17;345:e5823.

Verheul F, Smolders J, Trojano M, et al.
Fluctuations of MS births and UV-light exposure.
Acta Neurol Scand. 2012 Sep 12. doi: 10.1111/ane.12007. [Epub ahead of print]

Paediatric MS

Fuentes A, Collins DL, Garcia-Lorenzo D, et al.
Memory performance and normalized regional brain volumes in patients with pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis.
J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2012 May;18(3):471-80.


Huang J, Xie ZF.
Polymorphisms in the vitamin D receptor gene and multiple sclerosis risk: a meta-analysis of case-control studies.
J Neurol Sci. 2012 Feb 15;313(1-2):79-85.

Psychological aspects

Ernst A, Blanc F, Voltzenlogel V, et al.
Autobiographical memory in multiple sclerosis patients: Assessment and cognitive facilitation.
Neuropsychol Rehabil. 2012 Sep 17. [Epub ahead of print]

Physical activity

Paltamaa J, Sjögren T, Peurala SH, et al.
Effects of physiotherapy interventions on balance in multiple sclerosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
J Rehabil Med. 2012 Sep 19. doi:10.2340/16501977-1047. [Epub ahead of print]

Motl RW, Dlugonski D, Pilutti L, et al.
Premorbid physical activity predicts disability progression in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
J Neurol Sci. 2012 Sep 15. pii: S0022-510X(12)00485-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2012.08.033. [Epub ahead of print]

Weikert M, Suh Y, Lane A, et al.
Accelerometry is associated with walking mobility, not physical activity, in persons with multiple sclerosis.
Med Eng Phys. 2012 Jun;34(5):590-7.


Pike J, Jones E, Rajagopalan K, et al.
Social and economic burden of walking and mobility problems in multiple sclerosis.
BMC Neurol. 2012 Sep 18;12(1):94. [Epub ahead of print]

Pregnancy and childbirth

Hellwig K, Haghikia A, Rockhoff M, et al.
Multiple sclerosis and pregnancy: experience from a nationwide database in Germany.
Ther Adv Neurol Disord. 2012 Sep;5(5):247-53.


The Lancet Neurology.
Setting new standards in multiple sclerosis care and research.
Lancet Neurol. 2012 Oct;11(10):835.

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