Live discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 28th October 2015

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 28th October 8:15pm-9.45pm BST.
She will discuss as many topics as possible in the hour and a half and, as always, you’re welcome to ask any questions at all about sleep or the Sleepio program.
Please do note that, as per our guidelines, Dr Creanor won’t 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.

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

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Posted 22 Oct 2015 at 4:59 PM
  • 22 comments
  • 4 helped

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  • Sleepio Member

    • 4 comments
    • 1 helped
    Graduate

    Willpower, routine and rules are helpful in creating a structure for sleep. This becomes difficult when hormones are rife! Mood is lower, fatigue greater and willpower barely there, so what is the correlation and how can you overcome?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 5 comments
    • 1 helped
    Graduate

    Hello Dr,
    My insomnia is caused by postnatal depression. It has become much worse since the return of my periods after having my daughter. I am taking citalopram and zopiclone. My insomnia is at its worst the 2 weeks before my period. Do you know if taking the combined contraceptive pill could help me?
    Many thanks.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 5 comments
    • 0 helped
    Graduate

    Sleep restriction with sleeping tablets.
    Hi Dr Vicki Creanor,
    What is the recommendation about taking medication (such as anxiety / sleep pills) while following some of the sleepio course, such as sleep restriction and getting out of bed if you're awake?
    Is it better to go cold turkey or wind down their use as the challenge is that while using sleeping tablets in their recommended dose (no more than 3-4 times a week), they often make the other 3-4 nights & days bearable. Especially for those who work. I am compus mentus during the week as I get 5hrs with tablets, but rubbish on a weekend with often 2-3hrs of sleep.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1 comments
    • 1 helped
    Graduate

    Hi,

    I consulted with Prof Espie in 2004 after suffering from severe sleeplessness for just over a year. He put me on the sleep hygiene programme and it was the only thing that set me on the road to recovery.

    However, my sleep has always been vulnerable to changes that undoubtedly occur in life and the one thing I never conquered was sleeping anywhere outwith my own bed/bedroom. So holidays, overnights away etc., are never very successful and that's an ongoing problem.

    In August, our circumstances changed when my husband starting working for a company that's 3 hours drive from home. We rent a cottage beside his job and we're both meant to live there during the week and come home at weekends. However, when I moved to the cottage in August, my sleep was completely thrown off kilter again and didn't correct itself when I returned home, leaving me as bad as I was 11 years ago.

    I've signed up to Sleepio to repeat the programme, but don't know if I should risk trying to do it between the two houses. If I could successfully complete the programme between the two homes it would probably help my psychological block re sleeping away from home. However, if it is going to make it so much harder for me to achieve a normal sleep pattern again, I'm loathe to to try it.

    What would you recommend?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 6 comments
    • 2 helped
    Graduate

    Hi Dr Creanor,

    I have a question about when to get out of bed at night. Obviously, when you're awake-- but what about if you're in a gray zone/half-asleep-half awake state? I've had times where 3 hours after going to bed, I find myself dreamily conscious that I'm in my bed, aware that I'm there and it seems that this is a semi-wakeful state that I've interpreted as a time to get out of bed. However, when I get out of bed and go to the couch, I'm really out of it, can't even read and end up closing my eyes and listening to relaxation audio or just lying in this in-between state for a while. I'm now wondering if I should interpret this more as light sleep and not force myself out of bed in the first place.

    What would you recommend?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1389 comments
    • 225 helped
    Expert

    HI everyone and welcome to the live session. This is a space for people to ask questions about the psychology of sleep or Sleepio techniques. Any medical/medication concerns should be taken to your family medical doctor. I will wait to see if anyone is on here with any live questions before then going through the questions already posted, but will aim to answer as many as I can in 90 mins. Let's get started…

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3 comments
    • 1 helped
    Graduate

    why do I feel sleepy when its time to get up on SR but not at bedtime?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1389 comments
    • 225 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi JuneF,
    This is a very common issue. Often when we get into a pattern of poor sleep, we are more alert and anxious given the fact we are not sleeping well and worry about this. Bedtime is a trigger for worrying about how much sleep we will/won't get that night, which sends our bodies into an anxious cycle, making us feel more alert and thus less sleepy. When we are anxious, our bodies wake up as we go into survival mode. When sleep restriction occurs, it is something else telling us not to go to sleep (rather than our anxious minds) which inevitably (given the late hour we have to stay up until) means we are naturally sleepy. Hope this explains this odd phenomenon.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1389 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Valbeasixties,
    What you describe is similar to JuneF. Hopefully my explanation there made sense to you too. When we talk about 'thoughts going around in our heads' it can be many worries, or simply just the idea you describe about not being able to get to sleep. Sleepio focusses on this cognitive (thinking-related) aspect when it looks at challenging our thoughts. It's a huge aspect of how poor sleep starts and is maintained so it's a significant part of the programme. I hope you find it useful to combat this nighttime worry.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1389 comments
    • 225 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there,
    Thanks for your post. I would refer people wondering about how food affects our sleep to a couple of library articles that talk about food and sleep…they are called 'Food and Sleep' and 'Diet and Sleep'. Generally, you don't want to be eating too close to bedtime as the food can sit in your stomach and give you indigestion if not given the chance to digest properly before you go to bed. In terms of having a drink, many people who are up during the night find it helpful to avoid any liquids around an hour before bed. Hope this helps.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1389 comments
    • 225 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there,
    Thanks for your post. I would refer people wondering about how food affects our sleep to a couple of library articles that talk about food and sleep…they are called 'Food and Sleep' and 'Diet and Sleep'. Generally, you don't want to be eating too close to bedtime as the food can sit in your stomach and give you indigestion if not given the chance to digest properly before you go to bed. In terms of having a drink, many people who are up during the night find it helpful to avoid any liquids around an hour before bed. Hope this helps.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1389 comments
    • 225 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there again,
    You raise an important point in the link between hormones and sleep. Over the life cycle, hormones will vary for men and women. It is known that sleep changes around puberty, in pregnancy and around the menopause, so there is a correlation there. What one does about this is similar to what you would do when you need to improve sleep generally – the Sleepio techniques will still be helpful, but you may need to look at what else is affected by the hormone changes…such as increased stress/intolerance etc…and find ways in life of managing these factors too, so that it will positively impact on sleep. So one may wish to increase the amount of time they spend on relaxation methods when they are more hormonal, for example. It's often a good idea to monitor what exactly changes when one feels more hormonal and work back the way in terms of how to target certain related behaviours in order to help sleep at the same time.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1389 comments
    • 225 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Winter,
    Sorry to hear things are difficult. Given that our expertise is in the psychological aspects of sleep, we would always ask that any medication-related questions are directed to one's family doctor as they are trained in this area, while we are not. Sorry not to be able to give you an answer, it's just important to get the best advice from the people best placed to offer it to maintain the highest level of safety.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1389 comments
    • 225 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi PanNarrans,
    Thanks for your post – it's a common question. Sleepio can be completed while on medication – many people do this. It becomes a very personal decision, however (which we would recommend is talked over with your family doctor) as to whether to come off the medication before starting a course like this or not. Anyone who is looking to reduce/stop medication, however, should seek medical advice before any changes are made in order to do so in the safest way.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1389 comments
    • 225 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Carole,
    Thanks for your post. Often what we are trying to do with Sleepio is create a consistency in our sleep environment in order to create a new pattern which promotes sleep. When circumstances present themselves like this, however, it can be tricky to have complete consistency. What might work for someone living between two addresses, however, is creating firm consistency in the routine, despite the difference in location. You could aim to set the bedrooms up similarly as well to have optimal levels of environmental consistency, too. Bedtimes should also be the same across locations. If this is attempted over a number of months you may get a feel for whether there is enough consistency there to get back into a general routine.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1389 comments
    • 225 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi doubleco,
    Good question – many people I have spoken to have struggled with this one. I would advise anyone who is aware of being awake and not 100% asleep for any longer than 15 mins to follow the quarter of an hour rule. If you are conscious enough to be considering getting out of bed, get out of bed. And when you do get out of bed and start feeling very sleep again, that's your cue to return to bed. Hope this helps.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1389 comments
    • 225 helped
    Expert

    We have 15 mins left of today's session – any more burning question out there?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1389 comments
    • 225 helped
    Expert

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

  • Sleepio Member

    • 6 comments
    • 2 helped
    Graduate

    Thank you for answering my question about whether to get out of bed when only “half-awake”.

    Another question I have is about what do make of my current pattern as I seem to be stuck.

    For over a month, I restricted my sleep window to 5 hours. I generally had no problem falling asleep right away. But then around 3 hours later, I would wake up (sometimes in the half-awake/half-asleep state my other question mentioned), and then I get up and never get sleepy again. So I was getting about 2.5 – 3.5 hours of sleep a night for about a month and it has taken a big toll.

    Out of desperation, in the last week I extended my sleep window to 6 hours and decided to re-interpret the “in-between state” I described as a time I should not get out of bed, and on some occasions I did seem to get some more rest (or sleep?) before morning, but the last few nights have been pretty bad so I'm not sure things are moving in the right direction. So, maybe those two changes weren't a good idea, but the 5 hour restriction/ 3 hours a night of sleep wasn't working great either. I appreciate any thoughts about what to do as I sometimes wonder if I should give up and take drugs for relief.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 6 comments
    • 1 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi, I've just had a look in the library for the articles you mentioned on “Food and sleep” and “Diet and sleep”, but I can't find them. I also tried just searching for “diet” and didn't find anything. Hope you can help me find them. . .

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