Effects of relaxation associated with brief restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST) on plasma cortisol, ACTH, and LH

Biofeedback Self Regul. 1983 Mar;8(1):115-26. doi: 10.1007/BF01000542.


Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST), which involves placing an individual into an environment of severely reduced stimulation for brief periods, has been subjectively reported to produce deep relaxation. The present study determines the effects of REST-assisted relaxation on plasma cortisol, ACTH, and luteinizing hormone (LH). These parameters were also measured in a group exposed to a similar relaxation paradigm, but without REST (non-REST). Each subject experienced two baseline sessions (1 and 2), four REST (or non-REST) relaxation sessions (3, 4, 5, 6), and two follow-up sessions (7 and 8). Pre- and postsession plasma hormone levels were measured in sessions 1, 2, 5, and 8. Both REST and non-REST subjects reported that the experience was relaxing. During the treatment period (session 5) pre- to postsession changes in cortisol and ACTH, but not in LH, were significantly greater for the REST group than for the non-REST group. Plasma cortisol level also decreased across sessions in the REST group, with levels in sessions 5 and 8 significantly lower than the baseline (sessions 1 and 2). Non-Rest subjects showed no change in plasma cortisol across sessions. No significant change in plasma ACTH or LH occurred across sessions in the REST or non-REST groups, although ACTH showed a decreasing trend. These data demonstrate that repeated brief REST-assisted relaxation produces a relaxation state associated with specific decreases in pituitary-adrenal axis activity.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood*
  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood*
  • Male
  • Muscle Relaxation
  • Relaxation Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Sensory Deprivation* / physiology
  • Social Isolation*


  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone