Live discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 13th September 2017

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 13th September, from 8:15 to 9:45pm British Time or 3:15 to 4:45pm US Eastern Standard 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. 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 2017 at 12:46 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there and thanks for the post. Often when we have bad dreams for a prolonged period it is due to underlying distress/stress/anxiety about something ongoing in our lives. It is usually a good idea to find someone to talk through any ongoing difficulties with – people often find their family doctor/GP a good place to start to point them in the direction of finding someone to help. At other times, it may be foods that we are eating or medications side effects that cause many bad dreams …so it's worth finding out where the root of the dreams is and target this, so that the sleep doesn't suffer as much. If one is able to get back to sleep after a bad dream within 15 minutes it is OK to stay in bed, however some people may feel they lie in bed awake for longer after bad dreams…here, people can go into another room and use relaxation to calm the mind before attempting sleep again.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi and thanks for your questions.

    First of all, yes – even the briefest of snoozes can affect the bed-sleep connection because essentially, your brain is making a link between sleep and somewhere other than your bed. A way around this is to think of other things to do (perhaps alongside the podcast) to make sure you don't fall asleep. It's a fine line…you want to start to feel sleepy BUT you must return to bed as this occurs and not let sleep take you there and then!

    Secondly, fear can strike at odd times, even after a good spell of sleep. This is frustrating, but the mind is a funny thing and sometimes negative thoughts creep up on us and affect sleep. What might be helpful for people in this situation is t schedule in some 'worry time' earlier in the day – not in the evening as this is too close to bedtime – where all the worrying thoughts can be written out and challenged using the technique covered in Sleepio. Then they are less likely to creep up on people at night, thus making for a less anxiety-provoking bedtime.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Thanks Dr Creanor. The bad dreams are less of an issue to me than feeling both sleepy and wide awake at the same time – heightened awareness, but struggling to wake fully to get out of bed. The limbo between properly waking and falling back to sleep prevents me from being able to do anything about it, like get up.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hello – thanks for your post. This is probably more common than you think and my guess is that it's perhaps an avoidance technique – conscious or subconscious! – that may have stemmed from a period of poor sleep? Without knowing the background it's hard to say whether this is the case, but in any case, what I would advise anyone in the same situation to do is to set up a reward system for yourself so that you earn something the next day if you manage to get to bed at your scheduled time. It may be that the bedtime has to be gradually scheduled in at earlier and earlier times rather than going from a 5am bedtime to an immediate 11pm one, but this may give some incentive to get to bed earlier. Setting an alarm as well at the time you wish to start winding down might help. Doing the activities you tend to do at nighttime during the day instead may also reduce the need to be up so late. Hope that helps…

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    I'm wondering if there is enough awareness here to know you are awake for over 15 mins?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there,
    This is a good question…I wonder if there is another place in the house that could be used for daytime activity (another bed in another room, or a comfy sofa?) so that daytime and bedtime are separated somewhat?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there – I think this sounds like something that needs to be discussed with a physiotherapist or medical doctor in the first instance so they can work out what's causing this.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    That's the problem. It's as if I'm suspended between waking and sleeping, until I realise it's been one or two hours of semi-wakefulness, and I know I should get up but feel kind of paralysed and unable to force myself to get up. And I feel very frustrated by it, and terrible next day.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi again – often people worry about being accurate with the diary. It's a tricky thing to be so accurate so we always just ask that people estimate to the best of their ability. For brief wakenings, you can estimate roughly how long you believe you may have been awake for but don't get too caught up in making the figures completely correct – most people won't manage to do this all the time.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    If this goes on for quite a while, a technique we often use with people who feel paralysed in bed due to depression is that we ask them to force themselves to take it step by step…literally telling the body to move one foot out the bed and put it on the floor, then the other foot, then move one foot in front of the other until they can mobilise themselves into another room. Or even forcing yourself to sit up in bed may help to remove yourself from the bed a bit easier?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 1

    Thank you!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Thanks Dr Creanor, I was wondering if I had some kind of sleep paralysis? If there is such a thing? Anyway I will try this technique of using baby steps, thanks.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hello and welcome to Sleepio. Thanks for your question. I believe there is a clear reason why this is happening…

    It sounds like the sleep problem may have developed in your own bed and so your experience of sleeping there is negative. Your brain has essentially learned that sleep and that bed are not working…so every night when bedtime approaches, an anxiety builds up in that setting given the recent experiences of poor sleep there.

    However, removing yourself from that situation, going to a bed that has no negative associations, means the brain isn't getting anxious about sleeping there, hence a better, calmer sleep can happen.

    This is a clear example of why we suggest that people remove themselves from their bed whenever they are not sleeping for more than 15 mins as the brain soaks that experience up and links poor sleep with that setting…we therefore get people to only return to bed when they are sleepy and likely to sleep in bed so there is more chance the brain starts linking the bed to good sleep again, thus improving the sleep-bed connection once more.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    It's hard to say without having a full sleep assessment done in a clinic as they can see which stages of sleep this is happening at through this method…I would try the gradual steps first and then if this still continues, maybe speak to your doctor about further assessment?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Thanks, Dr Creanor, I will try the gradual steps technique and keep an eye on things, thank you :)

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there,
    It is known that, as we age, various aspects of our sleep does change. We tend to sleep for longer periods in lighter sleep and often we get sleepy at different times from before. The other thing is that, as we age, we are sometimes experiencing aches and pains, or have illnesses or are using medications that may affect our sleep, too. However, the techniques covered in Sleepio can still help sleep in older adults, targetting various things including the anxiety you mention.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    you're welcome – good luck…

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    it's gone very quiet – there are still 10 mins left of the session if anyone wishes to ask anything?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I'm ok for now thanks :)

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    that's all for tonight all – thanks for the posts and questions…sleep well and speak again soon!

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