Live discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 12th Sept 2018

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 12th September, from 8:15 to 9:45pm British Time or 3:15 to 5:45pm US Eastern Time.

She 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.

Please do note that, as per our guidelines, Dr Creanor will not be able to give personal medical advice, including that concerning medication. Her replies to questions will be made in such a way as to help as many people as possible who might have similar issues. If there are a lot of questions, she may not be able to answer all in the time available, but will try to answer as many as she can.

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Posted 7 Sep 2018 at 12:00 PM
  • 18 comments
  • 1 helped

Comments

  • Sleepio Member

    • 11 comments
    • 1 helped
    Graduate

    Hello Dr Creanor,

    I started the course in Mai.

    Things went (very) well but due to circumstances, it's tougher now.

    I have 8h45 of sleep time because of a good sleep efficiency the last months.

    With the beginning of the year and other situations the sleep is not so well again.

    I think it’s better that I practise sleep restriction again. I like to go back to 8h of sleep or so.

    But if I do that on my own, I think this will influence the conclusions of the prof.

    Is there a way of dealing with this?

    Thanks

  • Sleepio Member

    • 6 comments
    • 0 helped
    Graduate

    Dear Dr Creanor,
    I am in week 5 of Sleepio. I am so sleepy at night that with breathing exercises and wind down I fall asleep easily. Then I wake 3, 4 or 5am. None of the wind down exercises then work. Do you have any tips? I am very tired when I wake, and mostly am half awake and half asleep, not really sure if I should get up as I am sleeping lightly/drifting in and out. Sometimes I get up, sometimes I don't. Often I get up and find myself lying half asleep on the living room floor, pretending that this is my relaxation wind down to get back to bed, whereas it's probably just what I'd be doing in bed if I'd allowed myself to stay there. I am afraid if I do something active (like unloading the dishwasher) that I will wake myself up even more. I look forward to your thoughts. Many thanks in advance!

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2 comments
    • 0 helped
    Graduate

    Hello Dr.,
    I am wondering if there can be physical or physiological reasons for the pattern of waking up in the middle of the night and falling asleep perhaps an hour or 2 later? In other words, if one wakes up and doesn't have racing thoughts and the body doesn't go to sleep, wouldn't that mean your body has had enough sleep? Also, my mum always said that if you wake up in the middle of the night I should just remain in bed with eyes closed, it's just like sleeping. Was that true or just a mother's tale? Thanks.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 53 comments
    • 0 helped
    Graduate

    Hello Dr.

    In recent days/weeks I wake up tired but in no time my mind is fully alert and struggle to get back to sleep even with over 2 hours away from bed with low activity.

    All these relaxation exercises just cannot be tolerated as i am tired of all this and just want to sleep!!

    Please advise.

    Thank you in anticipation.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 22 comments
    • 2 helped
    Graduate

    I wonder if you can help me on this please. I started Sleepio 2 yrs ago and it probably took a year before I was reasonably confident about sleeping well most nights. Not all the techniques worked for me but I’ve found a level and have stuck ridigly with into bed by 11.30pm/up at 7am routine. I still get one or two nights per week when I can’t settle or I’m awake for 1hr or more in the early hours, and while I wish it didn’t happen I can cope with those.

    Unfortunately, I’ve hit a crisis over the last week: one bad night has followed another and I’d estimate my sleep efficiency is back to around 60% or so with nocturnal awakenings, anxious thoughts and panic attacks.

    I’m probably over-reacting here [a typical behaviour pattern!] but is it too soon after 7 bad nights in a row to start thinking about going back to SR, although I don’t relish the thought? Perhaps second time around it’ll be easier! And would I go back to what I was previously doing which was 6.5 hrs in bed then working back up to 7.5? Clearly I want to avoid my current difficulties from getting worse or to continue too long before taking action but I’d appreciate some advice. What’s the best thing to do? Thank you.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 30 comments
    • 3 helped
    Graduate

    I would be grateful if you could clarify one or two things for me. I was advised in 2016 to stick to a five hour sleep window between 2am and 7am but just couldn't face this. Since then my sleep (and according to this sites assessment) is 'fair' at 5.

    I haven't been great at getting up at the same time over the years and this and a number of other things I believe have contributed to my ongoing sleep issue (though as I said it's not severe). Thing is, given my sleep averages around five hours a night, should I limit my time in bed to this sleep window as advised in 2016? It does seem a bit severe and I'm not sure I could cope with it.

    Other sites such as the Sleep School, suggest a more gentle approach to SR, as in half an hour either side of your usual time. Thanking you in advance for your help in this matter.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
    • 383 helped
    Expert

    Hello and welcome to the live Sleepio session. I'm Dr Vicki Creanor, a clinical psychologist with a special interest in sleep. I see there are a few questions waiting so I'll answer these just now – if anyone else has anything they wish to post about sleep/Sleepio, please get in touch. I'm here for the next 90 mins…

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
    • 383 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there. Sorry to hear things have been tougher recently. Sleep restriction is a helpful technique for people who find that their sleep is quite fragmented during the night and a solid night's sleep cannot be achieved. If you'd like to recalculate your recommended sleep period to start sleep restriction again, work out your total sleep time (all the bits of sleep you're getting at night) then decide when you want to go to sleep/get up for the day and work out where your sleep window should be. If you're concerned how this will look on your Sleepio page, you can contact hello@sleepio.com to discuss any anomalies in the stats. Good luck!

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
    • 383 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hello and thanks for getting in touch.

    I'm curious as to which exercises are being done upon wakening? You're absolutely right in being careful what activities to pick when you wake up in the night. If people are practising the quarter hour rule, they need to watch not to get too stimulated. Some people sit in the living room, on a stair, in the bathroom and don't do anything but sit, until their eyes feel heavy again, at which point they return to bed. If you are easily stimulated, this simple sitting may be an option? I would agree to leave housework alone at this time, but I'd also say to people to be careful about not lying down anywhere as this can become a bad habit of falling asleep in other places other than bed.

    Many people experience what you describe in that they don't know whether they're awake or still asleep. My advice would always be that, if someone is conscious enough to think they are awake, they should get up, but only after (around) 15 mins. Waking up briefly and wondering whether we are awake or not is very common and most people then fall back to sleep at these points.

    Hope this helps?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
    • 383 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi – thanks for your post. There can be many reasons for night time wakening – sometimes it is stress/anxiety related, sometimes depression-related, but it can also be due to diet and the impact of food/alcohol on the body/brain. They are unlikely to be the result of someone having had enough sleep unless 8+ hours have already been achieved – or if the person has had a lot of daytime sleep via naps.

    In terms of the idea that lying in bed and closing one's eyes will be the same as sleep – this is not quite true. Within the brain, wakefulness looks very different to sleep – even if our eyes are closed and our bodies are still! Having said this, this is what good sleepers will do if they wake briefly in the night and it tends to bring on sleep, so perhaps this is what your mother was meaning.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
    • 383 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there – thank you for getting in touch. I'm sorry to hear things are hard just now. I can imagine the frustration when this keeps happening. My first thought when people mention the racing mind upon wakening is that the person is experiencing an underlying level of stress/anxiety. Is this something you can relate to? If so, it may be worth seeking extra support to help with this in order to then help you focus on sleep a bit better?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
    • 383 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Thank you for your post – it sounds as if the past week has been very difficult. I think going back to sleep restriction would be a good idea actually. It may also help you feel more as if you're working on it in a positive way, rather than worrying that another difficult night will follow. It can help us feel less helpless when we do something about our problems, can't it? In terms of the sleep window you'd return to – this won't automatically be the same as before. Anyone looking to do this needs to add up all the bits of sleep they're getting across a week or so and use the average of this to determine where they start in terms of how long their window should be. Then it's about choosing when to go to bed/get up in the morning as to when sleep should happen. Sleep efficiency – taken weekly – should then determine when this can be increased by 15 mins (this occurs after 90% efficiency is achieved). Hope this helps?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
    • 383 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hello – thanks for your question. Within the Sleepio programme, we recommend that when people start sleep restriction, they use the average time spent asleep as the starting point to then increase once efficiency is increased. The reason for this is that it is trying to minimise time spent in bed while awake as much as possible. However, this is a guide to what we think will help people based on sleep research and other programmes may do things differently – it's always up to people how they wish to work with sleep restriction.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 30 comments
    • 3 helped
    Graduate

    Hi, are you able to respond to my question tonight before you finish? If you could it would be apprecaited.

    Thanks

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
    • 383 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there – I responded a little while ago – it was the last one I replied to – you should be able to see the reply above? Let me know if you can't see and it and I'll repost it…

  • Sleepio Member

    • 30 comments
    • 3 helped
    Graduate

    Okay thanks very much

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
    • 383 helped
    Expert

    That's all for this session – thank you for the posts and speak to you again next Wednesday!

  • Sleepio Member

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

    Many thanks for your response, Dr Creanor. You were curious about exercises: my wind down is usually putting the lights off and gazing at trees and the sky out of my window for half an hour. Then into bed and left nostril breathing (yogic); then breathe in for 4, hold for 7 and out for 8 counts three times. And finally something I found which I think is called yoga nidra – body scanning whilst breathing slowly – think 'my right foot' as you breathe in, then 'my right foot' again as you breathe out, then move onto ankle, etc. This is very relaxing at bedtime, but doesn't work for me in the middle of the night.
    Thank you, though, for your thoughts about getting up if you are half awake, and what to do. Best wishes.

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