Live Discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 20th January 2021

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 20th January, from 8.15pm to 9.45pm British Time or 3.15pm to 4.45pm US Eastern Time.

They 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, they may not be able to answer all in the time available, but will try to answer as many as they can.

Please do note that, as per our guidelines, Dr Creanor will not be able to give personal medical advice including those about medication. Their replies to questions will be made in such a way as to help as many people as possible who might have similar issues.

To keep up with new comments as they are posted you will need to refresh this discussion page.

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Posted 14 Jan 2021 at 10:01 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 5

    Thank you for your reply

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I go and get changed at the same time as my OH and do my teeth etc around 10.15ish – then we say good night and I come back downstairs until the start of my SR at 11.30 pm ;)

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    You’re in the right place. The live discussion starts at 8:15 PM in your time zone. Just look at the bottom of the thread for the live posts at that time.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hello all and welcome to the live Sleepio session. I'm Dr Vicki Creanor, a clinical psychologist and sleep specialist with the team here. The next 90 mins will be open for any questions you may have about sleep behaviour or the course itself. Questions about medication should be directed to a medical doctor to ensure safety. There are lots of Qs waiting today – thanks to all who have go tin touch with queries – I'll start answering these now. Let's get started…

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi DMWV – I believe we've spoken before – welcome back to the forum.

    Reading when one can't sleep is a topic that splits people at times, so thanks for raising it – it's a common question so I'm sure many have this in their minds too.

    Reading can sometimes be more active as it requires more mental effort to concentrate than watching TV does. However I would also argue that it depends on the content. If it's a book you've read a thousand times, it probably is a more passive activity. Meanwhile, a stimulating TV programme may involve more attention a you try to follow a complex story line or if there is an emotional element to what you're watching. So I'd say it often depends…

    What I would say is more black and white, though, is putting the light back on and reading for a long time in the middle of the night is not good for sleep. Firstly, the body clock gets confused by the sudden light and may start to wake itself up. Secondly, the more time one spends in bed doing anything other than sleep, the less the brain associates the bed with sleep. This weakens the all-important bed-sleep association which we need to help us sleep and keep us asleep.

    I hope that helps expand the ideas around this.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 5

    Hello – I left a question a day or so ago. I've been on some CBTI courses, but realise my problem isn't related to depression, stress, obsessing about anything. I'm pretty much, over the last several months anyway, just AWAKE. It's like my system is wired – tho I'm not really thinking about anything.
    Have you any insights about this kind of insomnia, and ideas how to deal with it? Thanks.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi and thanks for getting in touch.
    It sounds as if what's going on here may be that the association between your bed and sleep may be a little off just now. This can happen when we have experienced a period of poor sleep, for whatever reason. Our minds associate bed with somewhere that sleep is a struggle, or where we have lain awake for long periods of time. And so, it learns to be awake in bed, rather than sleepy. So even if you do not currently feel anxious or stressed, it can be a learned response your body is activating. Ensuring you put the quarter hour rule into place will help here, as will having a good wind down routine. The QHR is designed specifically to help problems such as this to get the sleep-bed connection stronger again. Sleep restriction will also help if your sleep is fragmented.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Ah I think we wrote to each other at the same time :)

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 5

    Hello, I have to get up at 7am everyday to do a task (get the cat in, long story!) but I don't have to get up that early, so I usually go back to sleep and get up again later. It takes me a while to get back to sleep so I end up being awake for 30+ minutes and then get about 2 hours or so more sleep before I get up for the day. Is this healthy at all for my sleep in the long run or shall I just bite the bullet and go to bed much earlier than I usually do and then stay up when I get up at 7? I'm the kind of person who says they're a night owl and not a morning person, but I accept I might have to change my habits.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there- thank you for getting in touch.

    It's an important point to raise just now. The world is a strange place and the news out there is very bleak at present. It's hard not to hear or see something that may trigger emotions each day.

    At times of turbulence, I often speak to my clients about looking at what they can control in their lives and also focussing on what their values are. We can often get caught up in the 'noise' of life and try and firefight this, but it's exhausting. Focussing instead on things within our control and how we can work towards our values – even within the confines of Covid-limitations – can be really helpful and allow us to feel more like agents of control.

    If you implement the quarter hour rule, try and make the place you go to comfortable, quiet, dimly lit and somewhere that you're more likely to be happy to go to. This technique can be so helpful, but you need to put incentives in place to get there in the first place and make sure it's somewhere you can sit for a while.

    If we struggle to sleep beyond a certain point in the night, altering the sleep window can help – either shifting it forward or bringing it back an hour might knock the wakening out. And all the usual tips such as cutting out caffeine after lunchtime, getting fresh air and exercise during the day and having a good wind down will all be important here.

    Thanks for raising these points and I hope this helps.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there and thanks for getting in touch. Pets can often disrupt our sleep – so this may be a familiar story with some others too!

    I guess the answer to this is a little bit grey, rather than black and white…

    It is obviously more helpful to us when we can achieve a steady block of sleep, uninterrupted each night, so if you feel you can shift your sleep 'window' (the time you are asleep) to accommodate this inevitable daily wakening, I think this would be beneficial. However, if you say this may be tricky being a night owl, you could reduce it by 15 min intervals so your body gets used to it. It also depends on how you feel when you wake and how much of an impact this wakening is having on your feeling of being refreshed each morning, The fact you can get back to sleep fairly quickly is encouraging.

    Sometimes these are grey areas and we have to think about a few factors that work for the person as an individual…

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    I should say 'alter' rather than 'reduce' the sleep window – apologies.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 5

    Thank you for your advice!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi and welcome to Sleepio! Thanks for posting into this forum. So it sounds as if this technique is sometimes working for you – those nights where you manage to fall asleep quickly – it's a good thing to do…however, when we spend time in bed not sleeping (beyond 15 mins), our brains start to associate our beds with NOT sleeping, which has a long-term detrimental effect on sleep. If we start to associate the bedroom with a place we do not sleep, then the bedroom/our beds start to act as a cue for our minds and bodies to wake up or be alert when we climb into bed. Not what we want for sleep.

    Over the next few weeks, you'll learn about a technique that helps address this problem. It's called the quarter hour rule (where you get up and out of bed after being awake for more than 15 mins to avoid this association between bed and wakefulness getting stronger). So look out for this.

    In the meantime, watch out for using the meditation for too long in bed and perhaps try doing it as part of your wind down routine (before bed) instead.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    You're very welcome :)

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hello and thanks for getting in touch. It's always beneficial to have as consistent a sleep window as possible to help the body get into a good rhythm. Adjusting wake times tends to confuse the body, however I wonder if you have considered changing your bedtime and wake time to a different, fixed, window that you would be able to achieve? So perhaps delaying bedtime to the time you will always manage, then adjusting the wake time for this sleep window. You'd then likely be able to stick to this more consistently?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there, thanks for your question. I can answer part of your question, in that sleep quality – and structure – can be affected by medication (although this will alter for each individual depending on various factors).

    However, how best to take sleep medication is something that should be discussed with the health professional who has prescribed the meds as they will know your medical history.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi and thanks for getting in touch with your questions for this session.

    First of all, with regards to falling back to sleep after middle of the night wakenings, there are a few things to look at. 1) making sure the quarter hour rule is in place 2) keeping to a strict and consistent bedtime routine 3) creating a time in the morning or afternoon (not evening) where you sit and note down any worries you have – this can help lessen them coming up at night. A helpful tip is to categorise them as important or not important. Try and think of solutions for the important ones and for those that are not – plan for using distraction techniques when they come up 4) try and get exercise during the day to help sleep deeper at night 5) using some imagery can help – plan where you will go when the thought come up and immerse yourself in the image, what you might smell, hear, taste, feel at that calm place – practice it during the day so that going there in your mind at night is easier. Podcasts can often draw us in too much so this can be unhelpful if trying to sleep, unless it's very familiar or relaxing.

    For those who share a bathroom, getting teeth etc done earlier may help. Helping bed partners with their sleep can be done with using torches perhaps, asking them to wear an eye mask/earplugs or playing white noise in the bedroom to mask any noise that does occur when you come to bed. Other Sleepio users may have some tips about what they have tried too, which may come in handy…

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi Jazzy Lady – thanks for this question – it's one that often comes up so you're not alone in this struggle. First thing I would say is that the times for the sleep diary are OK to be guesses – if we focus on them being accurate it can become stressful and anxiety-provoking…which wakes us up!

    Most of us have smartphones, so a nice little tip for this is, when you wake up, without opening your eyes, lift up your phone and take a screenshot of the main screen. This may take practice first during the day! But it means when you wake in the morning, you'll have this saved in your photos with a time stamp.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    That's all for this evening – thanks for all the great Qs – a good wee busy session! See you next session…

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