Live Discussion with Dr Bryony Sheaves - 10th December

Dr Sheaves will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 10th December, 7:00-8:30pm (GMT).

Dr Sheaves is a Research Clinical Psychologist working within the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford. Her work focuses on the association between sleep and mental health difficulties, particularly symptoms of psychosis.

She will discuss as many topics as possible in the hour and a half, starting with the most popular questions with answers being given in a way to give the most benefit to the general Community.

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Posted 4 Dec 2014 at 4:15 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I have no problem falling asleep as I'm so tired but always wake up around 4hours later. I have moved my SW to midnight – 5am (the 5h minimum) but still wake up well before my alarm goes off. Is there any solution to this? I don't get anxious about sleep / lie awake with thoughts racing so I am not too bothered about waking up early but would like to feel less tired.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I now try to sleep from 11.45pm until 6.00. I usually wake up briefly once and then drop off after about 25 minutes, but I tend to wake finally at about 5.15. The quarter of hour rule does not help as if I get up at 5.30, by the time I have become sleepy again (if do), this would take me up to after 6.00, besides disturbing my wife.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hello Dr. Sheaves,
    Like the previous posters, I am doing much better and am able to fall asleep for the first time within about 20 minutes. But I continue to wake up again within 3 or 4 hours of falling asleep, and then usually wake up about an hour before my alarm goes off at 6:00 am. If only I could stay asleep! On a positive note, I am able to drop off again within 15 to 30 minutes if I wake up in the night and am not overly troubled by racing thoughts since the techniques I've learned here have helped me cope. My SE waffles between 83% and the low 90% mark, so I think my SW is adequately compressed … but how can I stay asleep? I am still feeling extremely tired during the day.
    Thank you for your insight!
    Flick

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Dr Sheaves, since your speciality is mental health and sleep, I was wondering what you thought the best way to handle getting through tough days on little rest is. There definitely is a correlation w/my mood on the days I get little rest. Thank you!

  • Sleepio Member

    • 522 comments
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    Expert

    Evening all! Sorry I'm a few minutes late logging in, I was stuck in a bad traffic jam. Here now and looking forward to answering questions. There are just a few posted already – if you have any burning questions do fire away!

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Dibby,

    Firstly I'm really pleased to hear that you are able to get to sleep more quickly now – that's great news!

    We tend to recommend the same techniques for early morning rising. I wonder if you could use the fifteen minute rule? It sounds like in the early hours of the morning bed has become a place where worries pop up. Perhaps go into another room and do something relaxing would be helpful? You can always return back to bed if you feel sleepy tired.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi Katie78 – well done for following the sleep restriction schedule. Have you noticed any improvement since starting?

    It sounds like you are also experiencing early morning rising (waking up before your alarm). Are you following the 15 minute rule? It can be hard to get out of bed at that time, particularly if you are from the UK and are experiencing this cold weather! Perhaps you could pop a blanket in another room and head there and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy tired again?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Julibaby,

    That does sound frustrating to be waking so close to your alarm. I would still recommend getting out of bed if you can. Is there a way to do this without disturbing your wife? The 15 minute rule is great for helping you to become sleepy tired (as you mention) but it is also about strengthening your association between bed and sleep. This will help to keep you working towards better sleep.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 6 comments
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    Graduate

    My SE has improved but only because I spend less time in bed. My sleep time is the same, although I think it psychologically better to wake up near my 5am alarm time than go to bed earlier but be awake at 2am/3am. If I wake up after 4am I find it hard to go back to sleep as I know my alarm will be going off soon. If I carry on with the midnight-5am SW will I eventually get 5 hours sleep? I've not been doing it long and been disrupted by travel / flu.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi Katie – it sounds like the fact that your alarm will go off soon is almost creating a bit of performance anxiety – do you think that might be the case? Have you covered the piece on the course about paradoxical thinking yet?

    The other point is that I think you are right – if you haven't been trying this new window for long it might just take a little while to adjust. It sounds like you are doing the right things. Try to be patient and kind to yourself – particularly if you've been a little disrupted by travel and feeling unwell.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 18 comments
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    Graduate

    Hi Bryony
    Can you tell me a little about circadian the melotonin med. I have started taking it and it really helps my sleep efficiency. Does it have side affects and can it be used long term?

    Pinky

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Flick,

    It's good to hear that you are able to return to sleep more quickly when you wake up earlier in the night and as for the others here tonight – it does sounds frustrating to be waking up close to the alarm.

    As for all, getting up after 15 minutes is important for the bed sleep connection. I wonder if you can get up and plan something nice to start the day? Perhaps a nice breakfast or put some good music on to get you going? By getting up a little earlier, (whilst not what you'd prefer to be doing) your sleep pressure will be higher the following night. If you're able to do this consistently your sleep should gradually keep on improving.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi gin-gin,

    Good question – I suspect many people here can relate to the impact that poor sleep can have on mood. The key thing I would say, for both sleep and mood is to keep doing the things in your day that make you feel good. It can be easy to let hobbies or social activities slip because it feels too much but if you can find a way to keep doing them, they will lift your mood and increase your sleepiness.

    I wonder what keeps you going already in those tough moments? Up beat music? Chatting to family / friends? A bit of positive self-talk? Keep using these or build them into your day.

    By doing the course you're doing all the right things to improve your sleep and many aspects of the course are also helpful for emotional wellbeing more broadly.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi Pinky,

    In fact I'm a clinical psychologist as opposed to a medical doctor so I'd always recommend asking your prescriber these kind of questions.

    However for an overview of information the NHS Choices website can have some useful information. You can search for particular medications and they have side effects listed.

    Hope that's helpful in some way.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Dear Dr. Sheaves,

    I would be eager to learn the long-term effects of using Alprazolam for sleep. I take one 1 MG tablet at bedtime which allows me to fall asleep rapidly and achieve six or seven hours of sleep (with one, sometimes two bathroom visits).

    The downside to this regimen is that the next day, I have a ever so mild headache and am slower in thinking things through.

    I have reduced the dosage to 1/2 tablet at bedtime only to have it take an hour or so to get to sleep and then only able to stay asleep perhaps two hours when I'm fully awake the rest of the night.

    Am I wrecking my liver, kidneys, stomach, lungs, heart, central nervous system? I think Alprazolam is a schedule three or four drug.

    Your answer to this dilemma would be genuinely appreciated.

    Sincerely,
    Jim

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Dear Jimsleep,

    I'm sorry but unfortunately I'm not the best person to answer this specifically – I'm a clinical psychologist as opposed to a medical doctor. Do speak to your prescriber.

    Regardless of what your prescriber recommends I would still keep going with strategies that you've learnt from the course. Cognitive behavioural techniques are recommended in guidelines because they can give long lasting results whereas sleep medications are only recommended for short term use.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 522 comments
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    Expert

    Is anyone still online and have any burning questions?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2 comments
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    Graduate

    Dear Dr Sheaves

    Please can you or anyone else give advice in adapting to an eight hour difference from UK time to time in China where I will be visiting for a month over the Christmas holiday. I am a graduate and my Sleep window has increased since starting the programme, although I have the occasional lapse of a three to four hour sleep. I had this pattern for over 11 years and have been retired for several more years than that. Thanks for any help you or the community might be able to suggest.

    higherdenham

  • Sleepio Member

    • 522 comments
    • 95 helped
    Expert

    Thanks for your posts tonight everyone. I think we'll end there as it doesn't seem like anyone is online.

    There were many questions about early morning rising this evening. But it sounds like many of you have made some improvements already and some are in the middle of the course. Keep going! If sleep has been a difficulty for a long time stay patient and keep marking those bits of progress.

    I'll be back in the new year – enjoy Christmas!

    Bryony

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Higherdendam – sorry almost missed you.

    It can take a while for your body clock to adjust so be patient and expect a few days of tricky sleep – this is completely normal. Do try and get out and get as much exposure to light as you can – this will help to sync your body clock. Avoid naps if you can and get into their social time (e.g. enjoying meals at the right time).

    Hope that's helpful in some way and have a good time in China. Bryony

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