Live Discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 10th June 2020

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 10th June, from 8.15pm to 9.45pm British Time or 3.15pm to 4.45pm US Eastern Time.

They will discuss as many topics as possible in the hour and a half and, as always, you are welcome to ask any questions at all about sleep or the Sleepio program. If there are a lot of questions, they may not be able to answer all in the time available, but will try to answer as many as they can.

Please do note that, as per our guidelines, Dr Creanor will not be able to give personal medical advice including those about medication. Their replies to questions will be made in such a way as to help as many people as possible who might have similar issues.

To keep up with new comments as they are posted you will need to refresh this discussion page.

To do this

On PC hit CTRL and R keys or the F5 key
On Mac hit CMD and R

Posted 4 Jun 2020 at 9:21 PM
  • 34 comments
  • 6 helped

Comments

Show older comments
  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
    • 555 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi and thank you for reaching out – it can be daunting at first but I hope you find the community and live sessions helpful no, and in the future :)

    Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, as you will be aware, is different from insomnia. It is caused by the body clock being set at a certain time (later than society would normally dictate as the 'normal' time to feel sleepy). This, as you say, can cause problems for people who then are required to get up at earlier times than their body clock is used to/able to.

    Sleepio is aimed at those with insomnia more than with DSPS, however there are elements that will help DSPS too. These include a regularity in bed/rise times, a good bedtime routine and altering certain lifestyle factors.

    It's good to hear you have a professional already looking at your sleep. Usually shifting the body clock for those with DSPS requires professional support and may include elements of bright light therapy and gradually changing bedtime, while ensuring appropriate levels of light at certain times of day. It may be that, alongside the techniques from Sleepio, this route will help alter your sleep pattern to fit better with your family's needs.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
    • 555 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi and welcome to the live session. Thanks for getting in touch!

    Good question…
    Sometimes when we've been working shifts and had periods of stress that have had an impact on our sleep it can actually be hard to work out what our natural sleep pattern really is!

    It may actually not come to light until you have more regular sleep, so depending on lifestyle factors, this can take a while to work out. It's also a little more complicated when medication is in the mix, as this obviously makes us sleepy when we may not naturally be so.

    My advice here would be not to focus too much on what the natural rhythm is at the moment as it's probably not going to be too clear for a number of reasons, but to focus more on achieving a restful and consistent sleep pattern. Once this is achieved, you may be more tuned in to what your body is telling you about when it wants to sleep or when it sleeps best.

    Does that make sense?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 4 comments
    • 0 helped
    Graduate

    My sleep is impacted by tinnitus, it’s there when I try to fall asleep, and right there when I wake up. Fatigue makes tinnitus worse, making sleep worse and the cycle continues.
    I find sound therapies unhelpful as I just end up with another annoying noise.

    Any thoughts?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
    • 555 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hello and thanks for your questions!

    It's strange, isn't it, that sometimes we can have good sleep for a while, then a couple of bad nights. I've been asked the reason for this quite a few times on Sleepio, so first of all, I will say it is pretty common. There are a few factors that may be at play here. First of all, lifestyle factors need to be looked at. Sometimes we don't realise it, but there can be a pattern that appears in our sleep that correlates with stress/diet/amount of exercise/environmental changes. Secondly, what can happen is that we subconsciously note that we've had some pretty good sleep over the past couple nights and then become more in tune with this, placing more focus on our sleep, and in turn paying too much attention to what our sleep is doing for it to become a passive process, thus making it harder to sleep the next night. So this is a psychological element. Sometimes, too, shorter sleep periods don't necessarily constitute poorer sleep – what matters is the quality of sleep that is achieved in a night and this is harder to gauge. We may have a short sleep but that may be when our body catches up with a lot of deep sleep we've been lacking, which may leave us more refreshed than we'd imagine. And the longer 'better' nights may leave us feeling more tired in the afternoons.

    To answer your question re your sleep window, if you don't see a steady, consistent increase in your sleep period, it ay be wise to stick to what you have for the moment until efficiency is more regular.

    In terms of daytime fatigue, use this time to get outside, in fresh air, perhaps do exercise, so that you can push through the tiredness and hopefully reduce it. Again, it's more likely related to the quality of sleep you had the night before, not just the length of sleep.

    There can be a range in sleep needs day-to-day, absolutely – this depends on how much exercise we've had that day, our mental health, our physical health and how good our sleep was the night before in terms of how much refreshing (deep) sleep we achieved.

    I hope that helps answer your questions?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
    • 555 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    This is a tricky one – tinnitus can be all consuming, can't it? I'm sorry to hear sound therapy wasn't helpful for you. Some people with similar chronic conditions find using relaxation or mindfulness at bedtime helpful – have you tried anything like this? There are some useful techniques within the programme that may be beneficial?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
    • 555 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hello and welcome to Sleepio. What you descrcibe is actually very common. Many people who report current problems with their sleep have experienced a previous period of poor sleep due to certain triggers (illness/stress/mental health) and then an anxiety builds up about this happening again. Poor sleep habits formed during the initial period then carry over to later periods of poor sleep.

    The good news is that, if a habit has been learned, it can be unlearned! It is not an overnight reversal, however with the help of various techniques you will learn over the next few weeks on Sleepio, you can teach your brain and body to sleep better by unlearning old habits and learning new, more helpful ones.

    I hope this is of some reassurance to you.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3 comments
    • 0 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Thank you, Dr. Creanor!

    I have been off shift work for awhile, but it was part of the cause. Is there a way to taper off the Ambien? How does one go about getting off of it. I use it almost every night. There are not concise directions. I would not like to go on a different drug.

    Thanks again for your help! I am both shocked and comforted that there are other folks seeking this help!

  • Sleepio Member

    • 4 comments
    • 0 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Yes, mindfulness is useful. Tinnitus is similar to negative thoughts that, like a train, you try to acknowledge and let pass through. The real difficulty is waking too early. The tinnitus makes getting back to sleep hard.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
    • 555 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi again, njee2. I remember I spoke to you last week too. It's important to remember that Sleepio offers self-help guidance only and, as such, it is up to each person whether they wish to – or are able to – follow the suggested techniques. It sounds as if you have a lot going on at the moment, so I would suggest taking guidance from the mental health professionals around you as to what techniques will be most helpful for you to follow at the moment. They know your medical history and current circumstances, so I would follow their guidance here as those at Sleepio are unable to offer specific, personalised advice. I'm glad to hear you have support around you and are able to use it when needed.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
    • 555 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Yes it's a lovely part of the Sleepio community to know that others are also going through similar experiences, as insomnia can be lonely at times.

    In terms of coming off medication, this is advice needing sought from a medical professional – it's important to discuss how to do this safely rather than to attempt coming off any medication yourself.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
    • 555 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Could mindfulness be used upon early wakening then? It's great to hear you've found that helpful as a technique. Imagery can also help to allow the mind to focus elsewhere and help you get back to sleep.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
    • 555 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi and thanks for getting in touch.

    It sounds as if the habit of night time wakefulness may have been triggered by learning to get up for your baby, then? This is quite common in parents and it's very frustrating when the baby sleeps through but the parents then don't!

    Sleepio addresses sleep maintenance problems by targeting a few different parts of the problem, from different angles. First of all, creating as consistent an environment as possible is helpful (bedtime routine, optimal sleep environment, consistent bed and rise times). It also looks at lifestyle factors that help us sleep through the night – relaxation (as stress and anxiety cause us to wake through the night), reduction of caffeine, getting light, fresh air and exercise during the day (as this helps the body learn the difference between night and day and helps encourage deeper sleep). It also addresses anxious thoughts that may creep in when we wake, such as “I'll never get back to sleep now”. And as you mention, other elements of the programme, such as sleep restriction are designed to help people strengthen the bed-sleep connection so that they are more likely to feel sleep and stay asleep when in their bed.

    I hope that helps anticipate what may help with this particular problem of sleep maintenance.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
    • 555 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi and thanks for getting in touch. To answer your question, it certainly could be the earlier morning light here that's causing you to wake earlier – especially if you've identified that it started around then. It's really tricky to eliminate sunlight from the bedroom and it sounds as if you've done a lot so far to help this. You could try and make it darker as it won't do any harm.

    The other thing to think about is whether there is any anxiety around just now, or low mood. These both also cause earlier wakenings. It's also worth thinking about the timing of the pandemic and whether this has perhaps contributed to lifestyle changes around the time you started waking earlier, or simply an underlying anxiety. Sleep problems have certainly increased as a result of Covid. Trying some relaxation before bed may help if this is something that may be at play.

    If you do wish to go to bed earlier, but don't tend to be sleepy then, have a think about whether you could increase exercise and fresh air/sunlight during the day or reduce caffeine as this may help you feel more sleepy earlier in the evening. Having a hot bath/shower before bed may also help you feel more sleepy a bit earlier.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 4 comments
    • 0 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    It’s worth trying.
    Thanks.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
    • 555 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Detta,
    You may find my previous post helpful as early wakening is also the theme there.
    Some things that can help reduce early morning wakening include:
    – avoiding naps during the day
    – using relaxation before bed or upon wakening (to get back to sleep)
    – getting plenty exercise and fresh air
    – making the room as dark as possible (as mentioned by a fellow community member above, an eye mask can help) so that the summer sunrise doesn't wake you early
    – avoiding caffeine in late afternoon
    – addressing any possible underlying mental health problems (depression/anxiety/stress)

    Shifting the sleep window can also help – some people find that going to bed early helps them achieve a better, longer sleep; others find that going to bed later helps.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
    • 555 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there,
    I'm glad to hear you're making progress, even if it is in small steps. It sounds as if you're recording of this is accurate. Don't worry too much about the accuracy of timings if this is stressful – sleep is so subjective that you will usually record HOW you slept much more accurately than any lengths of time you slept/times of wakenings.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
    • 555 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    HI Thomas,
    You may find an earlier post of mine from tonight on this topic helpful – it's a few posts up :)

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
    • 555 helped
    Expert

    That's all for this evening. Thanks for making it a busy session – some great questions tonight :) Speak to you again soon!

  • Sleepio Member

    • 5 comments
    • 0 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Thanks Vicki – although I already do all of those things, so I'm at a loss as to what's going on or what to try next!

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2 comments
    • 1 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Thank you I will try relaxation before bedtime and also try going to bed earlier.
    Detta

Return to top