Live Discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 14th November 2018

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 14th Nov, 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.

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Posted 8 Nov 2018 at 1:12 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Hi and thanks for getting in touch. I have heard many people talk about this strange pattern, so you're definitely not alone with it. My theory about why this may happen is as follows…
    Once someone has had a period of poor sleep, it takes up a lot of their head space (as I'm sure many people on here will identify with). They think about sleep a lot of the time. They daydream about having good sleep, and they worry about not getting to sleep that night. I believe that – at least part of – the issue of erratic sleep is to do with the fact that the body needs to catch up on sleep at some point, hence why we have good sleeps some nights. The body eventually gives in. However, after a good sleep, I believe that many people, having had a history of poor sleep, start to ruminate about their good sleep and why it might have happened, how they make tonight a good night and then they may worry that tonight doesn't actually match last night. So, the thinking starts…and what we know about sleep-related thoughts at bedtime is that they do not help sleep! So I think this is where the odd cycle comes in. I'd like to hear if this sounds familiar?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Hi there,
    This is such an interesting topic especially in the winter months. So, the reason it's a good idea to get daylight during the day is because it helps alert our natural body clocks to the fact it's daytime, therefore we should be awake. In the winter months, especially up in the Northern parts of the globe, there is little sunlight some days, let's be honest! Some people who experience SAD (seasonal affective disorder) – where their mood dips as a result of darker days – swear by light boxes in the morning to boost their sense of daylight and improve their mood. I think it comes down to personal preference in terms of whether it is something you use for a boost in winter, but things such as walking outside even if it's darker, and eating regularly can help keep the body clock right and tell it is is daytime.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there,
    This is such an interesting topic especially in the winter months. So, the reason it's a good idea to get daylight during the day is because it helps alert our natural body clocks to the fact it's daytime, therefore we should be awake. In the winter months, especially up in the Northern parts of the globe, there is little sunlight some days, let's be honest! Some people who experience SAD (seasonal affective disorder) – where their mood dips as a result of darker days – swear by light boxes in the morning to boost their sense of daylight and improve their mood. I think it comes down to personal preference in terms of whether it is something you use for a boost in winter, but things such as walking outside even if it's darker, and eating regularly can help keep the body clock right and tell it is is daytime.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi thanks for getting in touch. I admit I know very little about this although I have seen it demonstrated briefly. What I would say is that anything that is found to be relaxing is a good thing – we are all different in terms of what we find calming. And so this may be a good strategy to use as part of the wind down routine (before getting into bed). It might also be used when you wake in the night – as long as used in a different room, while implementing the quarter hour rule. I reckon this would be OK to use in this way.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Interested in the seasons effects on mood and sleep. I tend to find my mood dips in winter although not sure this is SAD. At the same time my sleep patterns tend to get more erratic. I can't help feeling the two things are related, if I can nail the sleep pattern maybe mood will improve as well. Is there any evidence around cause and effect in relation to seasonal mood and sleep disorders. I've tried a light box with no real benefit as far as I could tell although I wasn't using a sleep diary at the time.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    I haven't worked with many people with SAD, nor am I aware of the up to date research around this condition, however, in general terms, mood and sleep are very closely interrelated. Often it's hard to say which dipped first, but each will have an effect on the other. People with depression often have problems with falling asleep/staying asleep/early wakening/oversleeping. We do tend to find that targetting the problem that occurred first (whether this was mood or sleep) will help the other, so it may be worth having a think if this can be identified.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Thanks, I'll have a think about that, it's such a long time ago I first started to have these kinds of problems it's hard for me to recall which came first.

  • Sleepio Member

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    It might also help talking it through with a professional as often they can help tease these details out.

  • Sleepio Member

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    I've started to wonder about my sleep patterns in relation to my wife. She often went to bed before me, I'd end up staying up a couple of extra hours.Overtime my pattern has shifted to align with hers, I wonder if this has possibly shifted me into a pattern that doesn't sit well with my natural pattern and might contribute to my erratic sleep. Is there any evidence single vs people that sleep as couples have better/worse sleep patterns? Not that I'm looking to shift any blame in my wife's direction you understand…..

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hmm I'm not aware of the research in that field I'm afraid. That's not to say there isn't any out there but in my clinical experience, it's been both single people and those who have bed partners who can struggle with sleep. What we do find, however, is that once a sleep problem is there, it can be more tricky to modify the environment when a bed partner is present.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    ok, thanks Vicki. That helps, so my solution probably isn't moving to a tropical climate and separating from my wife!

  • Sleepio Member

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    That is not my recommendation!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Understood…..

  • Sleepio Member

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    On a serious note, though, some couples find it helpful to sleep separately while sleep work is ongoing, but of course this is a very personal decision. For some, it can help minimise the other environmental factors that may be reducing ability to sleep.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Ok, I don't think it's been too disruptive so far but i'm only just on session 2. If it gets a bit more hard to manage as we are as the sessions go by I can look at that. I don't believe the environment is a problem at present though. Only thinking about shifting back to a later time to retire as an option at present

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    That's good the environment seems stable then.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Thanks for the chat, it's been fun and informative.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    You're welcome – thanks for the questions. All the best with the rest of the programme…

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    That's all for this evening's discussion – speak to you all next week.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hi Vicki, thanks very much for your thoughts on both light boxes and the good night/ bad night pattern. Happened last night – again! Oddly, for me, not sleepy at bedtime after one good night – amazed as averaging only 4.5 hours/ night. Realise, must wait for sleepiness! I’m also going to observe my thoughts more closely as per what you’ve described and see if it’s a factor. Thanks again, Lesotho.

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