Live Discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 21st August 2019

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 21st August, 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 17 Aug 2019 at 12:28 AM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there and thanks for your post. Many people start the course when they are still on medication, so yes this can be done. It is also a good idea to discuss your participation in this course with your doctor (or whomever prescribed the sleep medication) so they are aware of any techniques you are engaging in.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hello and thank you for taking the time to get in touch. First of all, I wonder if you are on live and could expand a little in terms of what the 'fighting' sleep looks like?

    As for the electric zaps, it is something that we do hear about occasionally and can often be related to sleep (or other) medication – some people report this as a side effect or some report it when they are starting to withdraw from meds. Extreme stress has also been linked to these experiences, too, although the research is still ongoing. It is worthwhile speaking to a medical doctor if they are occurring on a regular basis as they will know your medical history well and may be able to suggest particular causes – and, therefore, interventions.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there – hopefully the previous responses will be helpful to you, too. It is a fairly common experience and can occur more regularly when we are sleep deprived, hence why it can sometimes feel it's happening all night if we are particularly exhausted or our sleep pattern is out of a routine.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Thanks for getting in touch with this question. We do tend to recommend that no food or drink is consumed while following the Quarter Hour Rule and out of bed. The reason for this is that any food/drink, caffeinated or not, has a stimulatory effect on the body and can wake it up too much prior to the return to bed. Furthermore, the act of simply making a hot drink may even wake the body too much, rather than engaging in a more passive activity during this time. Hope that helps.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hello Dr Creanor,

    Thank you for replying to my question.

    I seem to avoid going to bed even once I'm tired, sometimes until I'm exhausted. I think this comes from knowing I've struggled with sleep so long and hate lying in bed awake. My sleep efficiency is pretty good because of this. What I didn't realise I was doing was almost taking myself over the tired threshold until recently – I think the Sleepio programme has definitely helped me realise this, so whether its a 'thing' or not, it's great to finally realise something I suppose.

    Zaps: I do have an extremely stressful situation that I am unable to change. Perhaps it is this. It is the kind of thing some might seek counselling for, but I don't think it would help me.
    I have never previously taken meds for sleep, or anything else… in fact I eat really well and enjoy an extremely healthy diet. – However, I recently bought some melatonin and I'm breaking them into quarters as my biggest bug-bear is trying to go to sleep at a more sensible time – i.e. midnight instead of 4am. Of the last 4 nights I've taken twice and as soon as I've succeeded in say a full week by say 1am the melatonin will be popped away, hopefully forever.

    Over all I'm doing great though – sleeping better than ever in 20 years :)

    Again, thank you,
    Faye

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Thanks for your question about this – I'm sure many will also be wondering about this as it's something that comes up fairly frequently here…

    So, first of all, if one wakes 30 mins before the end of the sleep window and it is possible to 'dose' til the end of the SW, then absolutely you can do this. However it depends on the definition of 'dosing'! If this means you can achieve a light sleep, this is OK. If it means lying in bed awake but relaxed for 30 mins til the alarm goes off, then this is not recommended. The reason for this is that we want the bed to be associated with sleep as much as possible. So, if light sleep is achieved, we are still making this bed-sleep connection strong. If we are lying awake in bed, this is weakening the association.

    Similarly, when the alarm goes off, we should get out of bed as quickly as possible – if we lie there for too long, we can weaken the bed-sleep association again.

    This is difficult to do when we are in the process of getting our sleep back on track, however it becomes easier as more sleep is achieved across the night and, eventually, getting out of bed in the morning will be a less seemingly-impossible task!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi – thank you for expanding on that point. It sounds as if it is probably anxiety that is keeping you from going to bed as soon as you feel tired. This is really common in people struggling with sleep, especially if the problem has a long history. But it sounds as if you fall asleep quickly, which is great. People in a similar situation might want to try and extend the length of relaxation in the wind down period before bed to combat the anxiety about actually going to bed. This may enable them to bring forward bedtime in small, gradual increments (5 mins) at a time.

    In terms of the zaps, it sounds as it it could be either stress or medication here then?

    I'm so glad sleep has improved for you in general, always nice to hear about the successes – well done :)

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Thank you :)

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I need advice. I am now in week 4. I am trying to sleep for 7 hours but am managing less than 5. I “drop off” both in the afternoon and in the evening. I feel I am walking around in a daze most of the time. Do I listen to my body and just go with the flow, or do I try and push myself harder? There are times I feel I am not even walking in a straight line.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    This can be a tricky situation, when there is a lack of place to go. I'm unsure from what you have said about whether this is a short-term situation (if so, the programme can be paused for short breaks or travel etc) or not. If it is more regular, some people have found it helpful to simply get out of bed and use a seat in the corner of the room, or an en suite or hall, if available. It is not ideal, however the main thing is gaining a little distance, if possible, from the bed. Hope that helps?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there – I'm sorry to hear it's a real struggle just now. In terms of napping in the daytime, we do tend to recommend avoiding it as it will have an impact on how much sleep your body will take at night time (even a 15 min nap in the daytime can mean a shorter sleep at night). The reason for this is that, in order for the body to feel tired at night and manage a good sleep, sleep 'pressure' has to have built up over the day. Naps reduce this pressure. However, if anyone is concerned about the risks this may cause – either health-related or safety-related (ie the need to drive a car or care for vulnerable others) – then sometimes a nap is required.

    Some ways to help stay awake during the day include exercise, getting lots of sunlight and fresh air and sometimes talking to other people can keep us more awake.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Thank you. It was for a weekend away.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi and thanks for getting in touch. It's a really tricky time in a woman's life when the hot flushes occur and sleep can often reduce greatly in quality. It sounds as if your sleep is very unrefreshing at the moment. You'll have been given lots of advice already, I'm sure, about keeping the room cool and using light bedsheets and cool cloths etc. A fan with a bowl of ice in front of it can also help. But it may also be worth consulting a medical practitioner to see if anything else can help. In terms of the best way forward for sleep at the moment, I would aim for the most regular routine possible – making sure bed and rise times are stuck to each day so the same sleep window is achieved as much as possible.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Ah OK – so this can be paused or adapted, whatever works best for you.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there. This is a fairly common phenomenon actually and is known as 'hypnic jerks'. They are involuntary movements that tend to occur when we are falling asleep and moving from wakefulness to a sleep state. They are often made worse by things such as exercise late in the afternoon/evening, too much caffeine, alcohol and stress. So targeting these factors can often help. Use of progressive muscle relaxation can also be helpful before bed.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hello and thank you for your question about nightmares. Contrary to what the GP has said there is actually a technique that can help with nightmares. Sometimes if they are particularly anxiety-provoking it can help to speak to someone about what thoughts may be causing them to recur, however some people can do this by themselves. It's called nightmare rescripting and there are a few steps:
    1. practise relaxation/calming techniques regularly to help yourself prepare for engaging with the nightmare
    2. write out the nightmare in full – including any sensory details you notice (sounds/smells etc)
    3. then write out an alternative ending to the nightmare – a positive one – often this is one where you can take control (again include as much detail as possible)
    4. each day, use the relaxation strategies first, then mentally rehearse the new ending
    5. when ready, use the relaxation strategies at night and then mentally rehearse the new dream before bed

    This is often effective for many people, so I hope this helps.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    That's all for this evening's session. Thanks for all the posts and I will speak to you again soon.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Useful session, thank you. Good to have clear and encouraging responses and answers to our difficulties and queries.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Thank you for confirming that.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Most times I can't remember the nightmare , or the argumentative dream. My memory is not good I've always had attention deficit, but it's getting worse. I've been diagnosed with misophonia and then they said it was hyperacousia. My triggers are music. There is a family history of selective sound sensitivities. My mother hated music being blasted out and my brother hates Christmas carols. I've discovered that both my daughter and niece hate certain bodily sounds. I was bullied by physiotherapist because of the music which I've been attempting to complain about. I've had treatment for the hyperacousia, but apart from finding out that if I try to avoid it it will make it worse I don't think any thing has changed. Though I am trying not to let it work me up which isn't easy!

    I find I can't accurately fill in the questionnaires. I can't seem to get myself to get out of bed after 15 minutes as I can't judge the 15 minutes and I've still got the backache the physios failed to help me with, so the though off getting out of bed fails. I really struggle with things like mindfulness as my mind is all over the place.

    I find if I go to the GP and get fobbed off I feel worse. I even got fobbed off when I had Lyme disease one said it was only in Scotland and the other said I was very selfish wanting a referral to a dermatologist with the erythema migrants rash that she knew nothing about, but I managed to get in back door with an army consultant who said it was Lyme because of the erythema migrants rash, but because I had a false negative blood test the GP wouldn't have it it was Lyme. I see on my notes they have lost all the paperwork that confirms the consultants findings. My GP notes are really inaccurate!

    The GP has told me memory medication doesn't work! They even say my memory is not that bad!

    I'm trying the navy seal for six weeks it's not working yet, but I will keep trying.

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