Live Discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 23rd March 2016

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 23rd March, from 8:15pm until 9.45pm GMT.

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 17 Mar 2016 at 12:31 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    HI there,
    Good question – the clock changes do tend to affect many people (including good sleepers) and we often see a disruption to our sleep. In terms of melatonin use, I would ask your medical doctor about this as they know your history and can advise on how to take it. However, you can prepare for the clocks going forward by altering your bedtime and waketime gradually from tonight until Saturday night (changing it 15 mins a night) until you get to the hour change on Saturday. Also, on Sunday morning, it's good to get outside as early as possible and expose yourself to the natural sunlight (even if it's cloudy!!) – this helps reset your body clock naturally.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 8 comments
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    Graduate

    Dr Creanor,
    Like Cbuddy, I awake early and can't get back to sleep. I have always been an early riser and enjoy the mornings especially in the summer. However for the last 2-3 yrs I just feel constantly tired. I am in week 4 of the program and my sleep window is 23:30 – 05:00 at present. I normally need to get up at 06:00 for work but was finding it too difficult to stay awake until 01:00. Will the program work as well if I try to adjust my waking time by 15 mins instead of going to bed earlier. Also I an going through the menopause and was wondering if my quality of sleep and tiredness is more to do with that rather than the fact I wake very early

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there,
    It's a really tricky process and it feels so unnatural doing sleep restriction when all you want to do is sleep more! I understand your frustration. The problem with increasing the sleep window when your sleep quality is still not great is that you end up in your bed more, but still not sleeping for all of that time in bed, which actually worsens the sleep problem in the long term. Not what you want to hear, but that's just the science behind it and why we do the gradual sleep restriction programme once sleep efficiency is improving. It might also be worth looking at underlying difficulties such as stress, anxiety, low mood and, if you feel these are contributing to the feeling of exhaustion, it's worth speaking to the doctor about it. lifestyle factors are also worth looking at to improve things in general – ie, cutting out caffeine, alcohol, reducing smoking, increasing exercise etc.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi SusanD,
    Yes, you can alter your wake time instead of the bedtime, just make sure that once you alter it, it remains regular and doesn't shift around (until your sleep window needs increasing again). As for the menopause, it is a very common cause of disrupted sleep. Many women experience this. Sometimes it's about managing the symptoms of this to help improve sleep, too. Even environmental factors (such as having a fan in the bedroom for use when hot flushes occur in the night) can be worth looking at.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    HI there,
    This is a really common question, so thanks for raising it. Many people want to know when their sleep will get back 'on track'. Although I'd love to offer a conclusive timeframe, there are too many individual and situational factors upon each person to do that. Sleep problems (or at least part of them) are generally learned via getting into unhelpful patterns, so we have to unlearn the unhelpful factors in our sleep to see improvements, which takes time.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 8 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Thanks, I have been keeping my times regular after the initial change but glad to know that I can now look at moving forward to 06:00 in 15min steps.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    HI there,
    This is a really good question and not one I have been asked before. What we tend to talk about in Sleepio is feeling 'sleepy tired' when you are ready to go to sleep. This is usually when you cannot physically keep your eyes open any longer, you can't focus on anything you are doing. Sleep is something that happens to humans – we should be passive in it, but it sounds as if even the signs of sleepiness are foreign to you after a long time of suffering from sleep problems. If you don't notice the signs mentioned above re being 'sleepy tired', I would focus on just getting into the routine of sleep, as you have been doing. So don't focus too much on not noticing when you are tired – focus on the regularity of the routine. Hope this helps?

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Thanks I will pass your comment onto the team, Mary.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 44 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Dr,
    Thank you for your practical response. I was curious about mindfulness, but may have gotten into an area beyond what I need to know to improve my sleep. For now, I think I'll just follow Sleepio!

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1323 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    HI there,

    Thanks for getting in touch. I will ask the wider team if they have any comparison figures and ask them to get in touch if they do.

    Some of the people I have spoken to on this live session have extended their use of Sleepio to be involved in the community, which has gone beyond the initial period. Again, I will ask the wider team if they have contact with people after the 12 weeks are over (I'm only involved in contacting people on these expert sessions).

    Lastly, it is always worth looking at any other factors in life that may be causing sleep problems – usually, these include stressful life events, anxiety, depression or low mood. Often when sleep problems are treated on theor own and show little improvements, there are underlying factors at play that are maintaining a sleep problem as a symptom of the other issue. Lifestyle factors are also important to examine, such as amount of caffeine and alcohol consumed as well as smoking, diet and exercise. Just a few things to look at when sleep treatment seems less effective than expected. Hope this helps.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there,
    I would speak to your consultant about this issue as it's important given your recent medical procedure that you get the best medical advice. Sleep is often crucial to physical recovery, so I imagine the advice will be to take sleep when you need it, and, if so, you can pause the programme, yes. But I would speak to the medical team for their specific advice to you personally. All the best and thanks for your question.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there,
    Coffee is definitely a good thing to reduce when you're trying to improve your sleep, so that's good you realise that! Often when we have sleep problems, our bodies suffer too. This can be in a number of ways and is different for different people. Skin problems are often affected by stress…and sleep problems are a huge cause of stress…so there is very likely a link, although it would be a good idea to seek advice from a dermatologist about this to get their views on it.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1 comments
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    Session 4

    Hi Dr Creanor

    I have been undertaking the sleepio course for a few weeks and my sleeping has improved. My main concern is that I have exams coming up in the next couple of months and I have become preoccupied with the concern that I will not sleep before them, which I know is decreasing my chance of getting decent sleep! Do you have any advice on how to manage sleep before 'important events' as opposed to how generally to promote good sleep? Or would the same principles of challenging negative thoughts etc. apply?

    Many thanks.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Ellanah,
    Thanks for your question. I'm afraid this is one for your medical doctor as they know your medical history and so can advise you on the best method for you specifically. Sorry about that – it's just part of our guidelines to redirect medical questions to medical doctors to keep you as safe as possible. I'm sure you'll understand that – hope you get the answers you need.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 12 comments
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    Graduate

    Thank you for your reply. I truly can't think of any life events or lifestyle factors that would affect my sleep.
    However, I'm intending to keep to the 'rules' when I've finished the course and hope that it's just taking me a long time to get out of a bad routine of night time waking.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    HI Clemetine,
    Yes the same principles apply re challenging your thoughts, but you might also want to increase the amount of relaxation you do in the run up to exams etc – also have a look at the thought stopping technique for intrusive thoughts (known as the 'the the' technique). Getting into a good bedtime routine can help ease the mind into bedtime as well. I would also strongly advise those with exams coming up that they study elsewhere than the bedroom. if you study in the bedroom, it's harder to avoid thinking about the work when you go to bed as the space is used for both study and sleep. Try and separate them at all times! Good luck with the exams!

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Yes that's a good plan – the rules are there for life, not just the 12 weeks :)

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1323 comments
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    Expert

    That's all for today- thanks for all the great questions – see you again soon.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 7 comments
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    Graduate

    Hi
    I have completed the course and am sleeping the best I ever had, now that my brain is trained to fall asleep when I go to bed do you think it would undo all my hard work if I started to watch a DVD in bed? Or would you advise to stick to the course?

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Its only 8pm now i tnought it was starting at 8.15pm

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