Live Discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 24th February 2016

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 24th February, 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 18 Feb 2016 at 6:39 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hi, I am feeling increasingly unwell and despairing and low mood with so little sleep. It's difficult to get through the day, even while not in work and just doing minimal activities. My whole body hurts and even talking and walking around is difficult.
    Just had 5th night of the sleep restriction, with sleep worsening (I had one night of 90% SE and the rest have been very unsuccessful with even shallower sleep and very frequent wakings). I manage to stay awake until the SW by walking around the house. Each time I sit down I start to drop off to sleep. Last night I coughed most of the night as I have a cold, so I realise that until the cold has gone, my sleep will be even more broken.
    Should I stop the SR until the coughing has subsided, or is it best to persevere, even with the worsening sleep?
    Thanks for any advice.
    Mags

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I have been with sleepio for 8 months and on the whole I have had a very good result by sticking to what Prof has taught me. My first bedtime given by Prof was 1.15 am, and I gradually got to an earlier time of 11.45, but I wanted to get it to 11.30, I have tried to do that before and although my sleep was OK for the first couple of nights, afterwards I found I couldn't sleep and was having to get up for a while. So I went back to 11,45 and my sleep settled again. I have just tried 11.30 again and my first 2 nights were good as before, but for the last 3 nights I have not been able to sleep without getting up again. I am also getting a return of anxiety about bed time. I am beginning to wonder if I am going to have to stay at 11.45 bedtime as I just don't seem to be able to get it any earlier. Before I got insomnia about a year ago, I used to go to bed between 10 pm and 10.30. I retired from a busy job two and a half years ago. I try to get some exercise but not every day. I get 5 hours sleep on a good night, which I have found is plenty for me. Do you think I should stay at 11.45 and forget about trying to get it any earlier, especially as it seems to be upsetting me.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1339 comments
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    Expert

    Hello and welcome to the love Sleepio session. Here, I will answer any questions about the psychology of sleep or the Sleepio programme. Any medical questions should be directed to your medical doctor. I'll wait to see if any posts come in live then will answer those waiting…let's start!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    The 'live' Sleepio session – excuse the typo!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I have been on Levothyrozine for 10 years for a thyroid disorder. I have recently discovered that the medication I am taking 100mg a day causes sleeping problems, leading to insomnia . Is anyone on the Sleepio program finding this a problem. Thank you Dot .

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi szygalo,
    I'm sorry to hear you're struggling in this way. Many people do report impaired functioning in the daytime, despite seeming to have a good length of sleep. It's sometimes known as non-restorative sleep. You're right in looking at reducing alcohol intake and we recommend that those experiencing this problem do not drink late into the evenings so avoid the negative effects of alcohol on sleep. It can certainly cause disrupted sleep quality. What we would also recommend is looking at getting more exercise during the day and avoiding too much caffeine as the exercise will tire your body out, but the caffeine will stimulate it. As for sleeping on the couch, many people do feel less anxious falling asleep there because of the negative associations built up between bed and sleep. This shows that you are likely needing to go back over the part of the course where we challenge our negative thoughts about bed, but importantly in addition to this, it's vital for your sleep quality to start avoiding sleeping on the couch and save sleep for bed. This way, you are building back that association but also not having to break your sleep by having to walk upstairs to your bed after falling asleep. Hope this helps.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Dot – I wonder if you meant this to go onto the community page as opposed to the live session?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I'm not sure where to post it , just desperate for an answer .

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Millie008,
    What you describe is one of the most common (and frustrating) parts of a sleep problem. It's usually what causes sleep problems to continue. As such, the Sleepio programme will offer several techniques to help you relax at bedtime, to help you challenge these negative thoughts about sleep and to help you form a more positive relationship with your bed, which will lead to bed being a more relaxed place that encourages sleep. I see you are only in session 1, so it's common too for people starting on the course to be apprehensive and worried that the course will help their particular problems, so please rest assured that all the techniques you need are coming your way over the next few sessions. All the best with the course.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    If you're looking for others who are in similar situation, you could post it in one of the community discussions – if you go to community tab you'll find it there. Otherwise, if you're needing medical advice about it, the best person to ask is your medical doctor who knows your personal medical history.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    HI there,
    Thanks for your question. The sleep restriction (squeezing all the bits of sleep you tend to have minus all the wake times during the night into one continuous chunk) and the quarter hour rule (QHR) are designed to work together to improve sleep efficiency. Sleep restriction (SR) squeezes out all the wake times so you sleep more continuously. The QHR is aimed at making sure you don't spend excess time in your bed awake, as this ruins the association your brain has with your bed. If you spend too much time in your bed trying to get to sleep – and not sleeping – bed becomes more and more of an anxiety-provoking place, not conducive to sleep. So, I understand what you are getting at about the QHR ruining the amount of sleep you may get but actually it is just making sure that most of the time you are not sleeping (and you'd still be awake if you didn't use the QHR) is spent away from your bed and not in it. You would still not be asleep if you didn't do the QHR, but by doing it, you are trying to get back a positive relationship with your bed. As time goes on, it is likely that you will be extending that sleep window and needing to use the QHR less often as sleep improves. Hope that makes sense.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 30 comments
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    Graduate

    How long does it only take to reconnect with bed? Will it happen without forcing?

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Rolling Waves,
    Thanks for your question. Your query is similar to Millie008's earlier and I would respond in a similar way here. I realise you are only in session 2 and anxieties will likely still be running high. Please be assured that the techniques that you will cover in the next few weeks will target this common fear of anxiety about not sleeping. The programme will include relaxation techniques, ways to challenge persistent worrying thoughts and will help with creating a more positive feeling when you get into bed, which will in turn help sleep. All the best with the course.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1 comments
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    Graduate

    I often get tired and long for bedtime during the early evening around 8 30 and think I am bound to sleep when I am due to go to bed but by bedtime at 11 30 I have lost all desire to sleep so I lie in bed and read until I am drowsy, sometimes this works but often, getting up to go to the loo and turning out the light seems to wake me up again and it takes me ages to get to sleep. I would be grateful for any advice. Thank you.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Dawnie,
    That's a good question, however it is different for everyone. The reason is that the poor bed-sleep connection is a learned one. So, for someone who has only recently got into this pattern, it may not take long to get back on track. However if it's been going on for longer, it will likely take longer. There are, of course, other personal factors at play, too. Underlying stress/anxiety or even having bed partners who also move around a lot in sleep will all play their part in getting back on track. So, in short, it's hard to say how long it will take. As for your question about forcing the bed reconnection, I would say that the habit needs broken for anything to change and that continuing to sleep on the sofa will likely lead to little change. HOWEVER – and this is really important – for those people who do drive for their job (or are in jobs where they have to operate machinery etc) it's really important to seek medical advice when altering your sleep patterns and be very careful about how you go about it.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi Flower,
    It sounds as if it may help to revisit the programme in terms of the techniques such as the quarter hour rule as it is often a poor sleep-bed connection keeping people awake when they feel tired until they get into bed. We would advise people in this situation not to read until they feel drowsy but to make sure this doesn't go beyond 15 mins. Any time we are in bed but not sleeping weakens the connection. It may also be worth going over the anxiety work again and the bedtime routine steps. Hope that helps and gives you somewhere to start.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Magsy,
    Some people do take a brief pause on the programme while they recover from physical health problems, so this can be done, as things like coughs will make your sleep more broken. In terms of the low mood and aching body, I would also recommend speaking to your GP/family doctor about these difficulties in the first instance.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi peacock52,
    Thanks for your question. It may be that making the slightest change in your sleep pattern is, subconsciously, anxiety-provoking based on past sleep problems and the worry around this. It's a personal thing, though – is the extra 15 minutes that important to you that you want to aim for it? If not, you could stick at 11.45, however if it is something you are keen to alter, you could do it very gradually – even by 3 minutes at a time so that there's less of a jump in the change of time.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    That's all for now – speak to you all next time.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 44 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Your comment interested me as I'm also on levothyroxine. According to wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levothyroxine
    an overdose can result in insomnia. I have my free T4 tested annually to keep it in normal range. Recently my GP tested my TSH and reduced my dosage. Hope this helps.

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