Insomnia is not just taking a long time to get to sleep. It can be difficulty maintaining sleep, so you wake up multiple times during the night, and can’t get back to sleep. It can also involve being awake in the early morning. It's more common in women, and for sleep-deprived mamas with babies, insomnia often involves difficulty getting back to sleep after you've responded to your baby.
There is one simple intervention that can improve insomnia: exercise.
We get it: you don’t exercise because you’re tired, and life is hectic.
However, research shows that exercise decreases how long it takes to get to sleep, and improves sleep quality. To achieve this, exercise needs to be aerobic (cardio), and low to moderate intensity. Think walking, running, swimming, cycling. The optimal dose to treat insomnia is exercising 3 - 5x a week.
There are a number of interventions which have been backed by science to improve insomnia.
If you would like help to improve your sleep, know that our clinical psychologist, Dr Emma Black, is here to help.
Nightmares are common- most people have experienced these on occasion. For some people however, nightmares can occur frequently, causing distress or interfering with functioning. The risk of experiencing distressing, frequent, or impairing nightmares increases if negative life events, trauma, or mental health issues are present. It can seem hopeless to manage- how can you control or change your dreams?
It's good to know that there's a particular psychological technique that can reduce the distress linked to nightmares, and/or their frequency. Research shows that most people who undertake 'Nightmare Rescripting' for 10 minutes a day (for several weeks) experience benefit. It involves the following:
1. Writing down what happened in your nightmare
2. Write down the emotions you experienced as a result of the nightmare
3. Identify the emotion you would like to feel instead
4. Rewrite your nightmare so that the story finishes with the emotion identified in Step 3. Be creative: even if it's a pink unicorn that comes in to save the day- anything is possible in dreams.
If you would like to explore other helpful ways to manage sleep difficulties, know that our trusted psychologist Dr Emma Black can provide practical skills to assist you.