Live discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 21st June 2017

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 21st June, from 8:15 to 9:45pm British Time or 3:15 to 4:45pm US Eastern Standard 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.

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. 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.

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Posted 15 Jun 2017 at 11:31 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    We tend not to suggest that people introduce reading into the bedroom as the bedroom should purely be used for sleep (and sex) but it is OK to red outwith the bedroom again if not too stimulating. As for anxiety approaching bedtime, the Sleepio programme is specifically designed to combat this through its techniques, which, if followed correctly, should see a reduction in night time anxiety.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there,
    There is some individual difference in terms of our deep sleep. What does tend to happen, though is that deep sleep occurs several times in a night, through various cycles. Usually there is more deep sleep in the earlier cycles of the night, but it still occurs later on too. Amount of deep sleep on previous nights/naps during the day can also impact how much deep sleep we get on any one night and in general, age can have an impact on deep sleep, too.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hello,
    I'm so pleased to hear about the improvements made so far. In terms of stressful days, it's hard to avoid these sometimes, unfortunately, but what may be helpful for those in this situation is to create a time during stressful days (preferably not in the evening) to think through the worries/anxieties/stresses and use this time to do this thinking (and potential problem solving), which can reduce the thoughts that occur at night time. What can also help is to have a plan in place for the days where stress occurs – almost a written 'cheat sheet' to help unwind. This might include a hot bath/a walk/talking to a friend/watching an old movie. Whatever makes the mind relax. With this plan in place, it is more likely that the brain is prepared for relaxation ahead of bedtime, which will help promote sleep and reduce the likelihood of wakening up due to anxiety/stress during the night.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Does the sleep have to be restricted to 6 hours only ? Or is it better to have a 7 hour window ?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI and thanks for this post. It's a great question, however sadly not easy to answer. It really depends on so many personal factors that may interact with each other to create a stronger/weaker bed-sleep connection. It's not usually illness itself that creates the poor connection (unless there is lots of time spent unwell and awake in bed) but more how people interpret what's happened to their sleep. If it is interpreted as a major disruption and people start to worry they will never get back on track, this anxiety is what fuels poor sleep, and a poorer bed-sleep connection.

    But, by following the techniques accurately, the connection can start to improve quickly.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI – the sleep window will be different for everyone – it depends on the sleep data collected for that person in terms of how much sleep they usually get across an average night. The programme will work out a person's sleep window and then as sleep efficiency improves, the window will gradually get longer.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hello and welcome to Sleepio. Thanks for your post. Sometimes when we are very sleep deprived, there is a strange thing that happens whereby we seem to wake up and feel as if we are awake when we are actually still asleep – I wonder if this is what is going on here? Vivid dreams tend to happen in REM sleep when the body is not able to move (apart from the eyes). In terms of recurring dreams, if they are distressing, it's always worth seeking support for anxiety/stress as this is a common symptom of these problems.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there,
    I'm glad to hear sleep is improving! It's actually fairly common and normal to feel this way when we are in a new place. It's possibly our body's way of staying alert more due to perceived increased 'danger' in being in an unfamiliar place – an evolutionary quirk! It usually mainly subsides after the first night in this new place, however. What can be very helpful though is to keep up the bedtime routines and remain consistent with bedtimes and rise times.

    The same goes for early rises – the body is anticipating a change, so is almost alert for this and so sleep may not be as good on those nights. Again, sticking with consistent routines and bedtimes and using relaxation can help.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi and thanks for you post. For anyone travelling, especially into different time zones, it's probably not the ideal time to do sleep restriction as consistency is vital. I would recommend emailing the team at hello@sleepio.com to pause the programme until you're home.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Thanks for your question. In general, if people are working on their sleep and wanting to improve night time sleep quality/duration, naps should be avoided. This is because any sleep taken (even 15 minutes) during the day can have a significant impact on ability to sleep at night.

    I appreciate for new parents that there is advice out there to sleep when baby sleeps – for those in this situation, it may be best to take additional personal advice from the health visitor to do what is best for their own individual needs, as sometimes other health professionals will recommend naps for individual reasons.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hmmm – I haven't heard of this before either but I wonder if it's the stimulation element that's affecting sleep? Perhaps the heat of the water and the process of hair washing is stimulating enough to wake the body more than is wanted later at night. The practical advice would be to wash your hair earlier if you've noticed that doing this helps you sleep better.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi and thanks for this question. When people start the sleep restriction, it's important to be consistent with a few things in order to see the impact. First of all, after waking and not being able to get back to sleep after 15 mins, it's really important to remove oneself from the bedroom (the quarter hour rule) and only return when sleep tired (even if this takes a long time). this should be repeated every time it occurs throughout the night. Secondly, it's important to keep returning to bed until the rise time is reached. Thirdly, it helps to keep the rise time constant.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    I'm sorry to hear what you've had to cope with, it's clearly a very stressful time. With many things, relaxation techniques used throughout the day, at bedtime and when awake at night (outwith the bedroom and implementing the quarter hour rule) can help with stress/anxiety/worry. Having dedicated worry time during the day can also help as it can reduce the likelihood of the worries occurring at night time. Being consistent with a bedtime routine that is relaxing can be helpful as well. Also using the thought blocking technique described within the programme (repeating the word 'the' over and over) when getting back to sleep can often block any worries out to help someone get back to sleep more quickly. I hope some of these are useful to you and others in similar situations.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Quite often what we find is it takes a while to settle the full sleep experience. It's great that sleep efficiency is increased – sometimes sleep quality (refreshing sleep) takes a bit longer to be achieved. If the dreams are distressing in nature, it's worth seeking support for any underlying anxiety that may be causing them, but we often see that people who continue using the techniques consistently, will see improvements in their sleep quality soon, too.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    It sounds as if all the right things are being tried here, so I would suggest these are kept up, but additionally, caffeine can be used to waken up the system (as long as it's not well too late into the afternoon). For example, coffee or an energy drink may help? Even a very short nap during the day can affect sleep at night so it's worth trying to wake yourself up when this happens. Getting outside can be helpful, too, to get even more fresh air than at the window.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    It's often the anxiety of knowing the alarm is due to go off soon that wakes up up more when it's later in the night. For those who consistently wake up later in the night, the sleep window (and thus rise time) could be pushed later (later to bed, later to rise), so that a wakening at 4am would mean there is still a bit of time in bed before waking…this is OK as long as this new window is adhered to – it is detrimental to sleep if the window is moved around often.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there,
    This is tricky given the lack of consistency in terms of times and routines. I reckon what's needed here is to incorporate as much consistency as possible in terms of bedtimes and rise times, sticking as close to your home time zone unless the time zone is significant. It's unlikely you'll achieve the consistency others can, and progress may be slower, but it's still possible to work on certain aspects of sleep such as what to do when awake and getting up out of bed when this occurs. What might be sensible (I'm unsure if this is practical, however) is to wait until you are going to be in a fairly stable time zone for 6 weeks and then use this time to tackle the course, given the sleep data can be entered more consistently within a similar time zone, as I'm not sure how accurate it would be to enter data while travelling over various time zones.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi, sorry I'm afraid I'm not sure what you're looking for here – perhaps someone else in the team might know? Could you please email them at hello@sleepio.com?
    Thanks.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    HI there,
    I would actually stick to sleep window for now and work through the techniques using this. If you feel progress is not being achieved and efficiency is not improving after a while, then it may require further review. Many people experience odd sensations when falling asleep. Relaxation techniques can often help with this if they are used just before bed or while in bed initially. Might be worth trying this? Sometimes if people are particularly active before bed/during the day, their body can feel shaky while falling asleep.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    That's all for tonight's session – thanks for all the posts and I'll speak to you soon.

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