Live discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 17th May 2017

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 17th May, 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 11 May 2017 at 11:28 AM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi everyone and welcome to the live Sleepio session. Here we can address any questions about sleep psychology or the Sleepio programme. I will answer the posts waiting but if anyone has a live question, please get in touch…

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there,
    Thanks for your post. There are several reasons why someone may be feeling this way and I have to say that it is likely that much of it will come from anxiety. When we are anxious, even in a subconscious way, our bodies pump full of Adrenalin and other chemicals that keep us alert in order to protect us against perceived threat. Often though, what can happen to people who are not sleeping well, is that they may get that sleepy feeling yet when they see their bed/bedroom, their body wakes up again as it becomes anxious and views bed/the bedroom as a threat. Hope that helps?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    thanks for this question – a very helpful one to share as many others will, I'm sure, experience this. The quarter hour rule is applied when people wake up in the middle of the night to ensure they don't lie in bed too long while awake, as this weakens the association between bed and sleep. The same applies if someone wakes before their alarm. The advice is to try and get back to sleep but get out of bed if this goes beyond 15 mins. If it is a long term thing, one could try and shift the sleep window a bit earlier (go to bed 45 mins earlier) and see if this helps achieve a full night's sleep.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there, a couple of very good points are made here. Sometimes it is a difficult time to complete sleep restriction when life holds other challenges to one's sleep! If a child is ill, it may be a good idea to postpone the sleep restriction to a time you will be more in control of your sleep (this is often tricky in general with younger kids) but it has to be attempted at a good time for it to work. If anyone is needing to postpone the programme, the team can be contacted to request this (hello@sleepio.com). The second point made here is that, sometimes, it's not possible or practical to get up and move around a house (or there may not be other rooms available) during the quarter hour rule. If this is not possible at all, then yes a corner of the room or hallway/bathroom can be used.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there,
    Thanks for your posts. It's a balance, often, between making sure we get a good amount of exercise and being careful not to overdo it when we feel weaker. Insomnia often does make the body feel weaker, makes us more prone to falling ill and having less ability to fight things off. Not knowing the medical history here, I would encourage anyone in this situation to consult their medical doctor as the advice will vary from person to person depending on their health status and history. Sometimes, for instance, doctors will advise people who are physically ill to take naps during the day to reserve energy, so it's important to get this checked out.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there, I see that you're at session 1. What you and others at this stage will learn in the next couple weeks is something called the quarter hour rule. This helps with the problem described here that is so common in poor sleepers – what to do when one cannot fall asleep. It is a way to make sure that people do not spend long in bed trying to fall asleep, given this increases anxiety and makes sleep even more difficult and unlikely to happen.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there,
    I'm sorry I haven't seen this video however some suggestions that people may note in this circumstance might be:
    – I know I'm not going to sleep well tonight
    – I'm going to fail at this interview if I can't sleep
    – what if I lose my job
    – I'm a failure

    This is just a few examples of common worries people have before they fall asleep. They can be related to sleep itself or to important life events that they are anxious about, or they can be negative statements that they believe about themselves that make them unhappy.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there, thanks for your question. First of all, what I would say about some devices is that they can vary in terms of their reliability – often depending on their settings. I usually advise people to judge how well they sleep based on ho they feel in the morning. This is usually a good indication in itself. There are, however, several things that can contribute to a reduction in deep sleep. Anxiety/stress can have an effect and keep us more alert and thus keep our sleep more light. The normal ageing process means that as we age, we often get less deep sleep. Insomnia itself and having irregular sleep patterns can affect how much of each stage we get and also certain medications can interfere with sleep phases, too. I hope this goes some way to answering your question.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there, sorry to hear this. Although the end of the programme might show some benefits, what can often happen is that, once all the techniques are learned, it still takes a while for the body to get into a new pattern and so the quality of sleep continues to gradually improve after the programme ends. The programme ends because the techniques have all bee taught, however this doesn't mean progress stops there. We often see people's sleep continue to improve after finishing treatment because they continue the good practices and their body gets used to the new rhythm.

    What I would also say is that, for people who see slower progress, underlying problems may need to be addressed, for instance low mood or anxiety can causes sleep problems and can keep them going for longer.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hello, like JRT I have a Fitbit. I was nott particularly convinced by its recording if my sleep initially but they have recently upadated their way of presenting the findings and I am now more convinced by then. In particular it is interesting to note that I too have a record of little deep sleep ( between 40 and 60 minutes in the whole night.) This can be in multiple periods of maybe only 4 or 5 minutes at a time. My husband on the other hand goes almost immediately into a deep sleep lasting several hours and if roused goes back into another period of prolonged deep sleep.
    I am beginning to think that the inability to get decent periods of deep sleep may be at crux of insomnia problems and would like to know if there has been any serious research into the inability to achieve and maintain deep sleep

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there, this is actually more common than one may think! It's similar to having the same thoughts going through one's mind over and over. One technique that could be attempted would be to repeat the word “the” over and over instead. This would be within your control, as opposed to the song being outwith your control, so may work to deafen the song. The “the the” technique is used when trying to block certain thoughts from entering one's head.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there, that's interesting that you've noticed a increase in sensitivity for readings. People will vary in their deep sleep amounts, as mentioned before, but it also very much depends on how sleep deprived we are as our bodies are very good at playing catch up if we lose some deep sleep from the previous night, and will go into deep sleep much quicker the next night/nights to get the balance back. As mentioned, underlying anxiety can affect deep sleep so during insomnia, we know that this is key. There is always ongoing research into the various aspects of sleep, so I'm sure there will be robust research taking place on this subject. You might be interested in the 'deep sleep' article in our library, too, which has more info about this type of sleep?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there,
    The feeling of being 'out of sync' is a good way to describe insomnia and a common experience felt by most insomniacs. It is also quite overwhelming at the start of any treatment plan as most people wonder if this will work! Over the next 6 weeks, you'll learn techniques about how to get your body back in sync and relive the associated anxiety that usually comes with insomnia and should gradually see your sleep getting back on track.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there, thanks for these questions.

    The first thing I would say is that these choices can be very personal, so my suggestions are only my clinical opinion for the optimal chance of sleeping better…so, I would actually advise that people go to bed and wake at the same time each day (weekend or weekday) during their treatment phase. The reason for this is that the body might easily get confused if the pattern is not consistent and regular. It can be very difficult especially when socialising, so if it occurs that bedtime has to be later, the wake time should be kept the same.

    As for the partner in the bedroom, again, this is very personal not only to the person going through sleep treatment, but to their partner too. If possible, I would advise to keep the bedroom free of TVs (they can be very stimulating in noise and light but can also give off blue light which reduces melatonin release which is essential for sleep) but also to (politely!) ask partners to keep non sleeping activities (apart from sex) outside the bedroom.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there, thanks for raising these issues. I will pass this onto the product team for them to hear.

    In terms of what often happens clinically, people tend to notice that the number of times wakening throughout the night can reduce once their bodies get used to the new way of sleeping and as efficiency increases. Wakening once or twice a night is pretty normal and if you are managing to get back to sleep quickly, this is in line with what good sleepers do. If it is more frequent, however, I can understand the frustration.

    I'll pass the remarks onto the team – thank you for raising them.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    hi there,
    I am so sorry about the passing of your father.
    I'm afraid there is no single technique that can help with the disruption caused by an unexpected bereavement, as there are so many emotions connected to events such as this. Sleep is often affected negatively around the death of loved ones, so a plummet in scores is very normal. My advice would be to perhaps postpone the programme for a while until things settle and continue when you feel ready. To do this you can email hello@sleepio.com and explain the situation. Once you are ready again, the programme can be picked up once more.

    Take care.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there,
    Despite the strong draw of the couch when sleepy, it is best to avoid sitting down when one feels exhausted and is waiting until the sleep window. Keep active (avoid anything that poses a risk such as driving), talk to people, have a light snack (as long as not too close to bedtime), get fresh air, do some light exercise or light housework. As for going to bed early, this should definitely be avoided as it will undermine any techniques completed to improve sleep.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there,
    In a week or so you ill be introduced to the quarter hour rule. This explains exactly what to do during a middle of the night wakening. It does involve getting out of bed and going into another room if possible, but what one does then (until sleepy again) is sometimes trial and error. It's got to be something that's not to stimulating so as to wake you up completely. So reading can be helpful, listening to calm music etc. Watching TV is a tricky one as some TVs give off blue light associated with reduced sleepiness. A good tip is to ask what others do as people in the community usually have some great tips re what they've tried and tested!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there,
    You touch on something that is crucial to healthy sleep…a healthy mind. We know that depression, anxiety, stress, relationship problems all impact on sleep. So, living a life that makes us unhappy will impact on our thoughts, which will impact on our sleep. This is why it's vital to get help with other aspects of one's life alongside sleep treatment to ensure that overall wellbeing is improved.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    That's all for this evening – thanks for all the posts people left and I will speak to you again soon.

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