Live Discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 1st May 2019

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 1st of May, from 8:15pm to 9:45pm British Time or 3:15pm to 4:45pm 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. 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.

Please do note that, as per our guidelines, Dr Creanor will not be able to give personal medical advice including those about 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.

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Posted 26 Apr 2019 at 1:54 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

    • 4 comments
    • 1 helped
    Graduate

    Hi, I have completed the program and find that my sleep isn't better. I had a couple of weeks where it was greatly improved, but last week was a killer. I took some form of sleep aid (OTC or prescription) 5 times last week. This worries me, because I don't want to get dependent. I have had travel and sleeping in motels and I know that that can impact my sleep. My question is, I've read that we all have different circadian rhythm types. I'm a lark. How early can I go to bed. I used to go to bed at 9:00 and up at 4:30 or 5:00 and not sleep well. Now I find I can usually stay awake until 10:00 or a little later. I have my alarm set for 5:30 and usually wake up around 5:00. With sleep restriction I found I couldn't stay awake until 11:30 and if I did I had a hard time falling asleep. It's like I missed my window of opportunity of falling asleep. Does this make sense that I need to go to bed a little earlier to get to sleep and stay asleep? Thank you so much for your help

  • Sleepio Member

    • 50 comments
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    Graduate

    I'm waking far earlier than my wake time. After graduating several weeks ago my sleep window still hovers under 6 hours. Is this going to work for me? Improvement is not a straight line, but it sure difficult waiting out the dips and getting anxious about whether or not improvement will return. My SE has drastic highs and lows depending on whether or not I return to bed after waking at 4am.
    When I wake at 4 am, is it best to just stay up, knowing I rarely fall back asleep, or to return to bed?

    The later results in a better SE. I wake tired and struggle with afternoon dozing either way. Thanks for suggestions!

  • Sleepio Member

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

    I also found staying up too late means I got beyond the sleepy phase and then could not get to sleep. So now I start my sleep window earlier. The helps the getting to sleep but not anything else.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 4 comments
    • 1 helped
    Graduate

    Once again, I couldn't fall asleep once it was bedtime. I kept nodding off watching tv and finally went up to bed at 10:00 (10:15 is my bedtime). Once my head hit the pillow I wasn't sleepy. I din't fall asleep in 15 minutes so I got up and read. I did this 3 times. The 3rd time I felt anxious and really down. I watched Sleepio videos and read community, library posts and the audio. I then started reading a novel and finally tried bed again. I may have stayed in bed longer than 15 minutes but I did fall asleep about 2:30. The alarm woke me out of a dream at 5:30.

    I'm going to make a couple of changes today: – take a 10-15 minute nap in the afternoon (one maybe one in the morning). – tighten my routine after dinner. So I don't watch tv but do something a little more engaging.

    Could me natural sleep cycle need sleep earlier in the evening and an earlier waking time? One of my goals is to sleep later in th morning. Maybe I should accept that my body wants this earlier sleep cycle. What do people think?

    My computer warms the light it emits during the night. is it okay for me the read sleepio articles and listen to audio during nth night if I'm out of the bedroom?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2 comments
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    Graduate

    Is this program ok for people with ME/CFS?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1 comments
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    Graduate

    Hi guys! Would love some support and re-assurance that sleep problems can get better? Mine have lasted for a couple of months now, and it is greatly affecting my professional work abilities and relationship with my partner who I have recently moved in with. I am freaking myself out that this won't get better, and I am going to live with an overwhelming amount of anxiety every time I go to bed. I am not coping well!

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3 comments
    • 0 helped
    Graduate

    Hi,
    An intermittent sleep that consists of a few or a dozen parts that can be added here in this program? After such sleep, I am unable to function normally in everyday life. My one part of sleep does not last longer than 1-1.5 hours, then I wake up and try to fall asleep again. It is exhausting. How to deal with such sleep when working?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2709 comments
    • 443 helped
    Expert

    Good evening and welcome to tonight's live Sleepio discussion. I'll be here for the next 90 mins to answer any sleep-related questions as best I can to help the wider community. Let's get started!

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2709 comments
    • 443 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there – thank you for your question. It's a common one, so thanks for raising as I'm sure many people at your stage in the programme are wondering about this too. We recommend that people do stick to the same rise time each day to help their bodies get used to a regular pattern as this is known to help sleep improve. Although it can seem counterintuitive to get up not long after we've finally fallen asleep, it is something with which we recommend people persevere. If we simply go back to sleep after the alarm, we risk undermining a lot of the other work we're doing to improve our sleep as the body slips into a less regular sleep-wake cycle. Hope this makes sense?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2709 comments
    • 443 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Thank you for your encouraging words! I'm so pleased to hear this positive outcome and I'm sure many other community members will appreciate it, too!

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hello and thanks for getting in touch. Many people, I'm sure, will empathise with the frustration of early morning noises waking us up! There are a few ways around this that spring to mind, but perhaps others have some other ideas they've tried with success?
    – earplugs – they do suit some people, depending on whether you find a good comfortable pair that stay put overnight
    – using a fan/cooler bedsheets instead of opening windows (a fan can also double up as white noise)
    – using an app that plays background/white noise in the bedroom overnight to block out external noises

    Hopefully one of these might appeal?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2709 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi and thanks for your post. I hope I'm right in picking up that your main question is how early can you go to bed when using sleep restriction? There are really no rules around this, it's a personal decision in terms of creating a sleep window that works best for you, so you can retire however early you feel happy with and that fits with your lifestyle. In terms of motels and travel, you're right – it does have an impact on sleep for most of us, as it gets us out of good habits, regular routines and there is always that higher state of alert within our brain when we stay somewhere new at first – it's a normal protection mechanism to ensure our safety. So these factors very likely have had an impact. Hopefully once a bed and rise time that you're happy with is established, your sleep will improve.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2709 comments
    • 443 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    I'm sorry to hear you're struggling with early wakening. It's such a frustrating feeling. As I'm sure many graduates will agree, sleep improvement often takes longer than just a few weeks, as the body has to relearn how to sleep, which takes time. It's hard to believe it will work when we're struggling in the here and now, however I often encourage people to think about areas where their sleep has improved and to note these down so that, on days where we feel discouraged, it can be a helpful tool to reflect on.

    When people wake early, we tend to recommend that they use the quarter hour rule (getting out of bed after approx 15 mins of not falling asleep again) and return to bed when they feel sleep tired. Although it can feel pointless at times going back to bed, this is what we recommend as this regular behaviour is helpful in retraining the mind to have better sleep habits and gives us a chance to fall asleep again.

    I wonder if you've heard of the paradoxical intention (PI) technique? This is when we take the pressure out of trying to fall asleep again. The effort of trying to sleep reduces the likelihood of sleeping, given sleep is meant to be a passive event. So with PI, we shut our eyes and aim NOT to fall asleep, repeating to ourselves, “don't fall asleep”. Our brain does not hear the negative, so only hears “fall asleep”, while we take the effort out of it ourselves. Worth a try!

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2709 comments
    • 443 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi again – sorry I should have replied to both your posts at the same time!

    Sorry to hear you had a hard time of it last night. I can tell from your post that it was extremely frustrating.

    I have a few recommendations to try based on what you're saying, that may help others in similar situations…

    1. Usually it is anxiety about bedtime that causes us to feel suddenly less sleepy when our previously tired head hits the pillow, so using relaxation techniques and a good wind down routine can help.
    2. We are always asked about day time naps on Sleepio and firstly I would say that it is personal choice as to whether people nap, however we do not recommend any daytime naps other than for medical reasons. The reason for this is that having even a 15 minute nap can significantly reduce the sleep pressure that builds up during the day that helps us to sleep at night, so it can undermine a lot of the work people are doing to sleep better at night if they do choose to nap.
    3. A post-dinner regular routine is a great idea – the more consistent the better and gets the body into the pattern of recognising when bedtime is nearing.
    4. It is the case that some of us need to go to bed earlier than others, so listen to what suits your body and lifestyle.
    5. Use of computers is unhelpful during the night as they emit blue light which interferes with the body's release of melatonin, a hormone that helps us sleep. Use of computers is also quite stimulating so avoidance of such activities during the night is recommended.
    6. Reading sleep-related materials while struggling to sleep is likely to increase anxiety about it and thus stimulate the body, making sleep less likely, so this is best done in the first half of the daytime.

    I hope some of these are helpful for you and others in a similar boat!

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Thank you for getting in touch. I would always recommend that people with underlying medical conditions such as ME/CFS speak to their GP/family doctor before engaging in any behavioural sleep techniques.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there – I can understand your concern and I believe I can speak for many people I have worked with on Sleepio and beyond that it is a common fear. However, I have also known many people whose sleep has improved, even after years and years of poor sleep, so it can happen. Perhaps others with success stories can provide some reassurance too?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2709 comments
    • 443 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hello and welcome to Sleepio. I see you've just started the course, so I would like to reassure you that there are many techniques you will learn over the course of the next few weeks that will help with this broken sleep you mention. It can be very hard to work and deal with poor sleep, but I hope that once you start using the strategies in the programme, things will start to improve.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2709 comments
    • 443 helped
    Expert

    That's all for tonight – thanks for the posts everyone and I look forward to speaking to you again soon.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 50 comments
    • 17 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    I don't know if you'll see this but just want to thank you for your suggestions! They mean so much and give me hope in challenging times. I tried the PI technique and I actually dosed off before the alarm! Wow! That was a pleasant surprise. Thank you for being here and doing this! I look through and read all the comments. They help me stay on track and provide clarity. It would be a lot more difficult to get through these challenging times without our experts!

  • Sleepio Member

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

    It’s a great tip. I learnt it as a kid when I couldn’t sleep when I was away from home and felt anxious during the night. I also tell myself stories, I have a few favourites, one of them is thinking how wonderful it is to be in a comfy bed after imagining that I’m cold, wet, hungry, in distress. I’m a little weird!

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