Live discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 20th April 2016

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 20th April, from 8:15pm until 9.45pm BST.

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.

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Posted 14 Apr 2016 at 1:26 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there,
    Many people believe that alcohol helps with sleep problems and so they use it to cope with poor sleep. Although alcohol does help most people to get to sleep initially, it has a profound negative effect on sleep for the rest of the night and often causes early wakenings. The knock on effect, therefore, of a hangover is that one poor night's sleep due to alcohol consumption may also disrupt the next night's sleep as the usual sleep patterns will be out of synch and a bit all over the place. The positive here is that it has been recognised as a trigger for poor sleep and yes, the advice would be to avoid drinking large quantities of alcohol during sleep treatment, especially too close to bedtime.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there,
    Thanks for this question. It's been raised quite a few times here actually and there's even an article on it in the library – “Can you think you're awake when actually you're asleep?”. Research so far suggests it can be caused by things such as stress, alcohol consumption but also by sleep factors such as which stage of sleep you are in when you get this feeling and whether you are wakening frequently throughout the night. It happens to good and poor sleepers so it's an interesting area!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there,
    It's often the case that such activity trackers aren't sensitive enough to determine whether you're asleep or just lying very still. It's why in sleep research, we tend to use other forms of monitoring sleep, as they're more reliable. It's a personal choice as to what people wish to use however for the Sleepio diary we would recommend using your own estimations of sleep as well.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there,
    When people have these symptoms it's always wise to get it checked out by a medical doctor in case there is an underlying condition, such as restless leg syndrome. It's something we hear about frequently – an inability to get to sleep due to twitchy legs. Lifestyle factors can often help reduce this – reduction in smoking and drinking and also reducing caffeine can sometimes help these issues. I haven't heard of poor sleep directly causing such symptoms but underlying anxiety can cause a variety of bodily symptoms – which is also why it's worth being assessed by a medical doctor, face to face, who can check all symptoms for you. Hope this helps.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there,
    Although it feels like a good idea when very tired during the day, naps will have a negative impact on sleep treatment, yes. We advise against naps unless your medical doctor has advised you to sleep when it is needed for an underlying health condition.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I like this idea of consolidation. I think one has to consolidate existing learning before one can move forward. This can be a struggle, but the results can be worth it.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there,
    There's a very detailed article outlining what impact hormones can have on our sleep in our library – “Hormones and sleep: A two-way street” – hope this helps!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Absolutely. It's easy to forget things from first time round so it's worth spending time on it again to help it all sink in.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Thanks -one more question if you have time. Is it normal for sleep problems to get worse on SR. before any improvement? I've had two really bad nights with only 3hrs sleep since I started week 3. The QHR just seems to make me more awake and as I'm going to bed later than usual, I feel as if I'm missing my natural go to sleep time. So now I'm struggling to get to sleep whereas normally my issue is long middle of the night wake ups. On the other hand the other two nights on SR. have been good with long sleep chunks of 6hrs, more than usual. Just wondered if this is a typical response to the programme.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there,
    Thanks for your post. There are a few things that may be at play here. I would say it's worth speaking to you medical doctor to make sure there's nothing underlying the sleep problem or nothing medical at its root – this could be a whole host of subtle conditions, so worth just looking at even to rule them out. Hormonal factors may also be at play depending on age and gender. Lifestyle factors are also worth looking at – smoking, drinking, recreational drug use, intake of caffeine. When people wake up sweating or shaking or even having a panicky feeling, there could also be an underlying anxiety which is also causing the reduced sleep – also worth checking out with a medical doctor. Lastly, some people find it hard to sleep at specific times because they are an extreme lark (morning person) or night owl (a night person), so the time they are setting themselves is out of synch with their body clocks. Lots to think about there – hope that helps.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there,
    Yes, it's usually a bit of a bumpy ride for a while – lots of ups and downs while the body tries to adapt to the forced changes – you describe a common experience, but good to hear there have been 2 good nights too.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there,
    It's very common for women to experience this. I would recommend speaking to your pharmacist/medical doctor about this as they are best placed to recommend something to help you personally, as they will know your history better and so which remedy would be best for you.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there,
    The reason we ask that people use an alarm clock is so that they do not oversleep, which causes huge setbacks to the sleep treatment. So I do believe it to be an important thing to use but anyone in this position may wish to focus again on the techniques to help you fall asleep better and control the anxious thoughts that occur alongside the rest of the programme. The relaxation and mindfulness sections would be particularly helpful.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Thanks. Is it ok to set the alarm clock for a later time part-way through the night if I have missed a lot of sleep?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there,
    What you describe is normal and the first while after starting sleep restriction is undeniably tricky. It's a good idea to keep yourself busy as you describe and avoid naps – sounds like you're sticking by the book well. It usually gets easier once the body adjusts and sleep starts to improve. Just like many treatments, there is a lot of adjustment and difficulties at the start, but in the longer term it improves. Many people in this position have found support in the Sleepio community from those who have been at this early stage before and have come through it.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Unfortunately not – this would, again, disrupt the sleep treatment. We are aiming for regularity and getting into a set pattern of sleep, which is why we advise against hittting the snooze button, as tempting as it truly is…

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there,
    As you make your way through the programme, you will learn about the best way to do this. Your idea is correct, though, we are aiming for consistency throughout the week, so that's what we do in terms of getting your average night's sleep and setting this as the nightly goal, which can gradually be increased when sleep improves. You will be advised about how and when to do this, though.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hello, thanks a lot for your reply. I am 43, female, I have had sleeping problems coming and going in waves for decades and never something medical was found. My point is – I started sleeping worse AFTER I started sleep restriction (and sleep hygiene – no smoking, no caffeine etc.)...If you could just shortly comment on that? Is it that SR is adversely affecting me/my sleep and what should I do about it? Quit or endure and for how long? Thanks!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there,
    It's tricky to identify exactly what causes sleep to slip for someone – it is common for sleep restriction to disrupt sleep in the short term and it's usually advised that people give it a shot for a good few weeks, however if this is still having a significant effect on sleep after a couple of months or so, it would always be wise to see a medical doctor and get their advice on this, given they know you best and will be better at assessing the impact of any treatment on you at any point. Hope this helps.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Wow – busy session today. Thanks for all the great questions – see you again soon. Take care.

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