Live discussion with Dr Bryony Sheaves - 17th February 2016

Dr Sheaves will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 17th February, 7.00 until 8.30pm BST.

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.

Please do note that, as per our guidelines, Dr Sheaves won't be able to give personal medical advice. Her replies to questions will be made in such a way as to help as many people as possible who might have similar issues.

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Posted 11 Feb 2016 at 2:38 PM
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Comments

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I've wonder if we could discuss options like the Om Harmonics audio solutions by Mindvalley? They provide audio music they say acts on alpha and/or beta waves e.g.
    Deep Rest – last thing at night
    The Balance – for after work to wind down
    The Spark – helps with braining storming for new solutions
    The Focus – to help when needing to focus on a tough task
    The Start of the Day – to help you wakeup and get going

    There are also many other audio meditations on-line. I have used The Balance which was very effective and with practice could listen and not fall asleep.
    Regards BSleepio

  • Sleepio Member

    • 478 comments
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    Expert

    Good evening!

    Welcome to this evenings live session. I'm here to answer any questions that you have about sleep or the Sleepio course. Just a bit about me: I'm a clinical psychologist with a special interest in sleep. I'm therefore well placed to answer specific questions you have about the psychological aspects of the course. If you have particular medical queries or are interested in advice about medications your GP or primary care physician is best placed to answer these.

    It looks like we are very quiet online this evening. If you are logging in live and have any burning questions then please do fire away!

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Bsleepio,

    Thanks very much for getting us started with a question. I hadn't heard of this prior to you sharing it. I've just had a look up and listened to a 10 second audio clip to find out more about what you are referring to. I'm not clear on the science behind this or the level of evidence there is. However as a general principle from a sleep perspective we would usually regard things like this (an audio that may relax the mind / body) as a helpful addition to sleep when used within the wind down stage. I'm pleased to hear you have found some benefit. I'm afraid I'm not sure on the other roles of these audio clips that you mention.

    There are also some downloadable audio clips on the Sleepio website (e.g. relaxation MP3s) I wonder if you've tried these?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hi doc,
    Last night I couldn't sleep and went into the living room and read a chapter of Nicholas Nickelby on my iPhone. The iPhone doesn't have a blue-light blocker, but I wore my blue-light blocker glasses. The light didn't seem a problem, although I can't be sure, and I wonder whether the fact that the chapter took me more than 15 minutes is a problem, although I was then able to go to sleep (SE of 86%). Any thoughts? Thanks.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    If I go outside my sleep window on restricted sleep but my sleep efficiency is still good, how should I interpret this?

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Ronald,

    I think reading sounds like a nice activity to do when one is unable to sleep (was it relaxing?) and the general recommendation is to return to sleep when sleepy tired (this may take some time – there isn't a specified limit).

    There are several of these blue light blocker glasses on the market – a source for further information on the impact of light on sleep and the body clock is available at a website: www.cet.org.

    In general we would recommend doing an activity that helps to wind down ready to return to bed for sleep. If however the impact of blue light or using specialised equipment increases anxiety about sleep then an alternative strategy may be worth considering.

    I'm pleased to hear that you were able to return to sleep after your read.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Crozzers,

    If the sleep efficiency remains high across several nights with an increased window then this may be an indication that an individual is ready to increase their sleep window.

    We generally recommend getting a block of consolidated sleep at one sleep window before increasing it so that the habit of going to bed and falling asleep is relearned. This increases the chances of success at the new longer sleep window.

    If however someone is dangerously tired, is finding it very difficult to function or has other medical reasons (e.g. other physical or mental health complaints) then we may recommend adjusting to a more lenient sleep window from the outset.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 7 comments
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    Graduate

    Hello Dr Bryony.
    Sleepio has been going well for me since I started almost six weeks ago. However, I have been sleeping in the spare room and attempted to sleep in bed with my husband last night and had to return to the spare room because I couldn't settle. Am I ever going to be able to sleep in our bed again?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hello Dr Bryony

    Does one ever totally recover from insomnia? Or is it a chronic condition that needs to be managed like diabetes?

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Mammut,

    Great to hear that Sleepio is going well for you and that you are at the stage where you would like to return to sleep in bed with your husband! I'm really pleased to hear this.

    In moving to the next phase in the path to better sleep there may be an adjustment phase – getting used to the next change. And sleeping with a bed partner can often disrupt sleep a little even for the very best sleepers so it can be helpful to bear this in mind.

    Here are some strategies that others have found helpful: considering which of the Sleepio strategies have been particularly helpful so far and considering how they can be best used to move to this next stage. And coming up with a plan, with ones bed partner involved. This may include things that each person can do to help. For example, planning each persons bed time (is it easier to head to bed at the same time, or for one person to get to sleep first?), agreeing if it's ok to get up and go to the next room (if that's what needs to happen).

    Returning to sleep in the same room as a partner is something that other Sleepio users have described so it may well be worth seeking community support from other Sleepio users too.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi glider guy,

    It is indeed possible to completely recover from insomnia. In clinical terms we would consider this as no longer meeting the diagnostic criteria for insomnia. There is also the concept of personal recovery, meaning that one has recovered so that they can lead their life in a meaningful way (for them personally), perhaps despite still having some difficulty with sleep.

    I think of the Sleepio strategies as a toolkit of techniques. For some people, they can use the techniques, see a marked improvement in their sleep and not need to use their tools very often ever again (but still know that they are there). For other people the strategies are also in their toolkit and are used more frequently. And equally, for people without insomnia, they may also use these techniques to work towards better sleep – so managing sleep is something that is relevant to all (rather than necessarily a sign of a chronic condition).

    Have you seen any improvement in your sleep over the course?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 47 comments
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    Graduate

    Excellent answer – makes a lot of sense. Yes there is no doubt that the course has helped me. I almost never struggle to get off to sleep. I still deal with the occasional early wake up – but that happens with good sleepers too. I notice the early wake ups happen when I am facing a stressful day at work. That never used to happen to me. So – if I could get by that, then I would consider myself totally recovered. I am at the age where I am a little too young to retire (55) so like a lot of guys my age who are getting a little bored, I am forever searching for outlets for my energy and creativity outside of the office. But- on balance – the course has been immensely effective and I have recommended it to many others.

    Thanks for the response

  • Sleepio Member

    • 44 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi doc,
    1. Thanks for the positive feedback. On a whim I downloaded Dickens (for free) on my iPhone and discovered that, unlike the mysteries I had previously downloaded, it engages my mind without being too engaging and improves my mood, which suffers when I can't sleep. And the glasses remove any anxiety associated with the iPhone.
    2. Thanks for recommending the CET website. In addition to the blue-light blocker glasses, I use a light box and a negative ionizer, so this site is a great resource on these products and the best way to use them.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi glider guy,

    Really pleased to hear that you have seen some real improvements – fantastic news!

    I think stress at work is such common reason for disrupted sleep – and you're right, these happen to really good sleepers too! Some find it helpful to consider what it is about this that disrupts sleep and revisit techniques appropriate for targeting this. E.g. is it general hyperarousal before sleep (in which case the pre-sleep routine / relaxation may be worth revisiting), is it particular thoughts or concerns about work (could the thought checker help?), is it going to bed slightly earlier to prep for a big day (could a later bed time help?). Parts of the Sleepio course are available to revisit in the library.

    I really hope that you continue to see benefit from the course and really pleased about the gains you've made so far!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    hi

    if week 3 is about sleep restriction to train me to get to sleep quickly, how does it help me if I already get to sleep quickly initially, but wake up numerous times during the night (at least 10 times)?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 478 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Ronald – great to hear that you've found Dickens helpful and that he's had wider benefits for you too. I hope that the rest of the course goes well for you.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Magsy,
    SR works by compressing your sleep window – essentially reducing the amount of time that you are in bed. What this means is that your sleep pressure should be higher when one goes to bed (to increase the change of sleep) but it also decreases the chances of waking up.

    Many people find it helpful to use with other strategies too, like a relaxing wind down routine (for 60-90 mins). This targets hyperarousal which is another common reason for waking.

    Good luck with the rest of the course Magsy.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    That's all we have time for today! Thank you all for your interesting questions and for sharing your experiences. Until next time, good bye and good luck with the rest of the course.

    Best wishes

    Bryony

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    thanks, I am going to try longer wind down than I have been doing. I fall asleep initially really quickly as I am so exhausted, but within an hour I am waking regularly all night, even though I am off work and shouldn't have anything to worry about!

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