According to a study presented at CHEST 2012, the American College of Chest Physicians annual meeting, stress reduction techniques used in short intervals may decrease cardiovascular risks by improving sleep.
The study measured the effectiveness of a stress reduction technique, the 10-minute Tension Tamer, on improving stress levels and sleep habits in patients of the Integrative Cardiac Health Project. Researchers measured perceived stress levels using the Perceived Stress Scale, sleep quality using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and fatigue using a 10-point fatigue scale.
Subjects were taught to use a 10-minute visualization and relaxation technique by stress management specialists during four 30-minute sessions. The technique includes deep breathing and imagery and subjects were encouraged to practice the technique at bedtime. After 4 visits, the subjects were assessed again for stress, sleep, and fatigue.
Out of 334 subjects, 218 improved their perceived stress by 6.6 points. These subjects also had better sleep quality and less fatigue than those who did not improve their stress. Researchers suggest that the Tension Tamer can be used to improve sleep quality, therefore reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems.