Live discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 18th March

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 18th March, 8.15pm-9.45pm GMT.

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Posted 16 Mar 2015 at 5:06 PM
  • 29 comments
  • 1 helped

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  • Sleepio Member

    • 1323 comments
    • 214 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Marko,
    Gosh I can tell you are struggling just now, especially as you've needed to take annual leave to cope. There are a few things I would like to clarify if that's OK?

    When you wake up, I gather you are implementing the Quarter Hour Rule…are you returning to bed at all after this? Just when you said there sin't enough time in the remaining 1.5 hours of your sleep window, it made me wonder what you are doing in this time.

    Are there any other factors that have changed in life over the past few weeks/ More stress? Lifestyle factors? Increased caffeine/alcohol/smoking/changes in medication?

    As for increasing the sleep window, I wondered if this was so you feel you can go back to sleep for some time before the end of the window? I'm afraid increasing the sleep window, as tempting as it may be for this reason, is not a good idea. The reason for this is that the sleep window helps contain all the sleep you get in one block (rather than the 2 you said you used to get, or little fragments of sleep throughout the night) so the quality is better. It helps the sleep-bed connection too as all the time in bed should be spent asleep. However if you extend the window without being able to sleep any better, it will weaken the sleep-bed connection and likely lead to even worse sleep.

    Hopefully you're on live today so we can talk through these factors above.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Lew,
    Can I clarify – when you say heightened awareness, do you mean you're paying attention to noises etc around you? Or do you mean your mind is racing, thinking about things?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1323 comments
    • 214 helped
    Expert

    It's very quiet – anyone have any burning questions?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 6 comments
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    Session 4

    Hi Dr. Vicki Creanor,

    I have been implementing the 15 minute rule. This has decreased my sleep efficiency in the short term, probably because I'm anxious about falling asleep within 15 minutes (it usually takes me about half an hour).

    My sleep patterns seem very similar to Marko's. I usually awaken after 4.5-6hrs, and need a second shorter (1.5-2hr) block to feel rested. For the past four years, I have been waking up way too early and have had terrible sleep efficiency. I hardly ever got the second block of sleep. During the first two weeks of the program, I set a 9 hour SW, practicing good sleep hygiene and going to bed/waking up at the same time every day. My sleep efficiency and bed-sleep link improved significantly over these two weeks (from 6.5hrs sleep to 8hrs, and from 65% SE to about 85%). I have lost that bed-sleep link, probably due to anxiety about my alarm going off and not being able to fall back asleep.

    I suspended the SR today because I have an important project due tomorrow, and I am extremely inefficient on 5 hours sleep. I plan to take it up again after I've submitted the work.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 8 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi Dr Creanor
    With about 15 mins to get off to sleep at the start of the night and another 15 before getting up under the QHR that leaves about one hour. I've been spending this time reading dull biographies in low light in another room. More recently I've been trying meditating (mindfulness/autogenics). Generally haven't managed to get back to sleep. There hasn't been any increased stress etc. and I've been following the lifestyle advice. Just worried that if there's no progress after 4 weeks am I in danger of habituating myself to less sleep. How long should you stick with it in these circumstances?

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi tzahorik,
    When you set the 9 hour sleep window, was this calculated based on how much sleep you were getting? Just doing rough sums there I wonder if this was set too high as you seem to be getting less than 9 hours? I wonder if this is what has reduced your sleep efficiency as you will have been in bed for much longer than you are sleeping (the definition of poor sleep efficiency)?

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    I would suggest sticking with it for longer than 4 weeks, but I would also suggest trying new activities that may make you sleepier – a lot of it is about trial and error. Perhaps the biographies are, in fact, too stimulating! There is little risk of habituating to needing less sleep, unless you are one of these people who naturally need less sleep, which is doesn't sound as if you are…

  • Sleepio Member

    • 15 comments
    • 8 helped
    Graduate

    Hi, Dr. Creanor –

    I just completed week 5 of the course, and I was intrigued by the suggestion to repeat the word “the” as a thought blocker. I tried it once, and it seemed to work initially, but the longer I said it (the course recommends 5 minutes), the more “automatic” it became and I could easily think other thoughts while repeating “the” in my head. How can I make this tool more effective?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1323 comments
    • 214 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi kt80rep,
    You could try and use other words too if this is becoming too automatic. Or you could try mindfulness, whereby you accept the thoughts coming in and imagine them floating into your mind, floating through your mind and then floating back out again, without trying to analyse them. Takes a lot of practise but many people find this effective.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 6 comments
    • 0 helped
    Session 4

    Dr. Creanor,

    The 9 hour sleep window was set arbitrarily. During the second week of this sleep window I was getting about 8hrs 15min of sleep and falling asleep within 10 minutes of getting to bed and 10min after awakenings. With a 7.5 sleep window, I'm taking about an hour to fall asleep and I wake up after 4-5hrs. I have been able to fall asleep after this first blovk. When if I don't fall asleep within 15m, I listen to audio books.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 15 comments
    • 8 helped
    Graduate

    Hi, Dr. C –

    Another question: I struggle with relaxation techniques, such as breathing and progressive relaxation. I often get more tense when I do these. I wondered if it has to do with when I'm doing them. I usually do them in the evening when I'm a least starting to feel a little drowsy. I am a rules fanatic, and it's possible that I'm afraid I will fall asleep if I get really relaxed, and that would violate the “no naps” rule. Is there an optimum time during the day to practice these relaxation techniques?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1323 comments
    • 214 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hmmm. Usually the sleep window is calculated by adding up all the bits of sleep you get so it may have been too long to start with. And do you listen to these audio books in bed or are you taking yourself out the bedroom to do this? It's a good passive activity as long as it's not too stimulating/holds your attention too much.

  • Sleepio Member

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

    Thanks, I'll try that.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1323 comments
    • 214 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    I would try a bit earlier in the evening but not too early in the afternoon that things could get you stressed out again before bedtime and negate the whole process. Or, you could do them 10 mins before your sleep window is due to start so that it's a bonus when you do feel sleepy with them.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 15 comments
    • 0 helped
    Session 3

    hi doctor. i did 6 hour sleep restriction for 3 weeks and had moderate progress but was not able to extend my sleep window (never got to over 90% for a full week). i went on vacation last week and slept great all week with 9+hours. now both two nights back at home have been terrible (i have not been following sleep restriction). i can get to sleep great but wake up and cannot get back to sleep at all. havent been following QHR and will start again tonight. what are your thoughts about this? obsiously my bed – sleep connection to my own bed are the problem. i get so upset and discouraged knowing that i CAN SLEEP but just not in my own home. i also have a toddler that wakes me up from time to time (like last night where it was from a very deep sleep) and unlike before my problems started, i cant fall back asleep! no matter what relaxation techniques i do nothing works :( i am starting to really hate my bed and try to tell myself how much i love it. feel broken :(

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1323 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Dakaferlady,
    Sorry I missed this post earlier on – this is a question for the person who prescribed your medication – it's really important to take their advice on reducing meds.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 6 comments
    • 0 helped
    Session 4

    I listen to the audio books in my living room. They may actually be too stimulating- they certainly hold my attention. Regarding the sleep window, I just set a fixed bed time and a fixed wake up time. I didn't know what a sleep window was at the time.

    It sounds like I just need to stick to sleep restriction with a 7.5hr SW, as I was directed to do. I'll try to find more boring audio books for future wake up sessions. How long does it usually take for your sleep efficiency to improve when practicing sleep reduction?

    Thanks for all of your help, by the way!

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1323 comments
    • 214 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Sorry I can't chat to you for longer as the session is now finished, however I would try to get back onto sleep restriction and the quarter hour rule as soon as possible to keep the routine going again after your vacation as often little breaks in routine cause small blips.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1323 comments
    • 214 helped
    Expert

    Thanks for the posts today everyone – look forward to speaking to you soon.

  • Sleepio Member

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

    Hi Dr Creanor; By heightened awareness I mean my mind is “racing” , thinking about things, not even necessarily important things. Lew

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