Live discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 28th June 2017

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 28th 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 21 Jun 2017 at 9:03 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Ive been on the program for about 10 weeks and average 5 and half hours sleep per night now. I keep falling asleep at work and have tried coffee, water, fresh air, walking, all to no avail. My cognitive functioning is poor from lack of sleep. Is it time to use sleeping pills before I lose my job?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 4 comments
    • 0 helped
    Graduate

    As well as waking multiple times in the night my problem for the past couple of years has been getting up in the mornings. No matter what time I go to bed and how late I set my multiple alarm clocks my body just won't move and my eyes won't open and I lie there knowing I am awake but it's almost like being unconscious. I am on week 3 and my schedule is to go to bed at 1.00am and get up at 7.00am. I'm a night owl so 1.00am is fine with me and I should love to get up at 7.00am and have the whole day ahead of me but I just can't make it happen. Today it was almost 10.00am. I live alone so have no help at hand. A friend used to phone me an hour after my alarm time and would repeatedly phone until she got an answer but I was advised that part of my problem might be the phone signal in my bedroom so we gave that up and unfortunately I can't hear the house phone from upstairs in my big house. I am 74, suffer from fibromyalgia and a spinal problem but I don't think that has any bearing on it! Any helpful suggestions please?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
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    Expert

    Hi all and welcome to the live Sleepio session – I see there are already some questions waiting so let's get started….

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there and thanks for your question. There are various ways in which Sleepio will help people to stay awake through the night. The best thing to do is take these techniques step by step as the programme teaches them, so they are learned and practised one at a time. It can be frustrating in session 1 and people can be anxious about what will be covered, but rest assured the techniques will help with this problem.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there,
    Unfortunately we cannot answer questions about individuals' medication, as this must be discussed with the prescribing medical doctor. This ensures safety, which I'm sure you'll understand is important to us.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Thanks for your comment – yes, consistency and reduction of worry about sleep are two of the best ways to keep good sleep on track.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there,
    Thanks for your post. First of all, I would say that it's important to take the readings from electronic devices with a little pinch of salt, as they are not always completely accurate. But if someone is experiencing very vivid dreams, I often think it's wise to look at their levels of stress/anxiety/mood as often these difficulties lead to increased vividness of dreams. Alcohol, medications, recreational drugs and general sleep patterns can also affect this, so what Sleepio will do is help you look at these factors, while teaching you some techniques to improve sleep quality (consistency of bedtimes/rise times, relaxation, good sleep habits) and together, they tend to increase sleep quality. If anxiety/low mood is present, it may be worth seeking support with these difficulties alongside Sleepio.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    HI there,
    This is a common problem. Often when we wake, it's somewhere in between sleep and wakefulness and it can be fuzzy as to which state we're in! If, when we wake, we feel tired enough that we can fall back asleep again, we should let our bodies do so. The only time we should get out of bed is if we've been wanting to fall asleep for more than 15 mins (a guess, not through clock-watching which makes sleep worse!) and haven't yet managed. This is the quarter hour rule. In terms of measuring duration awake, this can be difficult but the best guess is fine for diaries.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I've tried a lot of different strategies for improving my sleep, including sleep hygiene, sleep medication and therapy. Nothing has helped. I don't typically feel depressed, although sometimes my lack of sleep can cause some symptoms that look like depression. Could an antidepressant help regulate sleep? It's so hard to tell if it's really a factor.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there,
    I can appreciate this must be so frustrating. However, we do not recommend the use of Ipads/electronic devices such as this at night time as there is known to be a blue light that comes from them that suppresses the sleep hormone, Melatonin, and makes sleep more difficult. It sounds like this may also be done in bed? If so, we do not recommend anything other than sleep and sexual activity within the bed during the course of people trying to get heir sleep back on track, purely because it sends the brain mixed messages about what the bed is used for and whether the brain should be awake or not while in bed/the bedroom.

    So, instead, if awake for more than 15 mins with this particular issue, we would say to those in this situation to remove themselves from the bedroom at this point and engage in an activity that is passive and not too stimulating (this varies from person to person). Drinks and snacks should be avoided, as should electronic devices with blue light (smart phones, Ipads, some TVs etc). Reading is a good activity (as long as not too stimulating a text) and some can listen to music. People with ear worms may wish to repeat the word “the” over and over to block out the song.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there,
    You raise an important point. Depression can be a secondary symptom of poor sleep (and vice versa). Many people who experience poor sleep go on to experience depression and/or anxiety as a result. Whether an antidepressant would help you is up to a psychiatrist or GP/family doctor to decide as other factors must be looked at, but it is common to feel low due to insomnia. Often when sleep improves, the resultant mood problem lifts, too.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there,
    It's really tricky to do a sleep diary and most will never be fully accurate, but a best guess is OK. SO please do not worry too much about this. In terms of what to do in this situation, some people have found that a particular sleep window doesn't work for them after trying it out for a few weeks, so it may be worth trying a different window (earlier or later) to see if this works better. For some people, this can alter how they sleep.

    What I would also say, however, is that teaching your body how to sleep better again does take a while – it's unlearning bad habits and training your body and mind in a new pattern. So be patient – you may find if you stick with this same sleep window for a few more weeks, positive changes will creep in.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    HI there,
    I'm afraid we cannot answer specific medical questions such as this. It's vitally important that medication changes are discussed with a medical doctor who knows that person well, as advice will vary from person to person dependent on various individual factors.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    HI there,
    I'm sorry to hear what's going on for you just now. It certainly can be more difficult to concentrate on improving sleep when there are stressful life events ongoing. It's a personal decision as ever, however if anyone feels that they need to pause the programme, the best thing to do is to email hello@sleepio.com to request that a pause is placed on the programme for you. Someone will then get back to you and let you know how to go about this.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    It sounds as if what's happened here is that a health issue (headaches) has led to secondary insomnia (ie the insomnia was triggered by the health issue). Sleepio can help with poor sleep patterns learned over time, however if the trigger for waking up is always the headache, I would probably recommend that the route of the headaches is treated first (it could even be stress-related if the scans were clear) to then aid the sleep. if it stress-related, various Sleepio techniques (relaxation, challenging thoughts) would be relevant.

  • Sleepio Member

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    In reply to a deleted comment
    Expert

    Hi there,
    Thanks for your post. You've raised some interesting questions. For many people suffering from insomnia, low mood is part of the course, too. It's extremely common to have depressive and anxiety symptoms along side poor sleep, so I don't believe there has been a study on separating out these factors in terms of how people cope with sleep restriction in terms of their levels of depressive symptoms. What I do know from having worked with Sleepio for a number of years, is that the sleep restriction part is often the worst for most people. It's when most people feel like giving up and abandoning the course entirely. In effect, many people feel they unravel at this point.

    Having said this, it's one of the most effective parts of the course in terms of improving sleep quantity and quality.

    In my experience, sleep restriction makes people feel as if the problem is getting worse…but only in the very short term, because they then experience the positive changes as a result of the sleep restriction.

    It might also be worth drawing on the Sleepio community for their positive experiences of sleep restriction as these people have been through this themselves.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hello and thanks for your question. As mentioned before, whether someone takes sleeping pills or not is an entirely personal decision and one to discuss initially with a medical doctor who knows your medical history. But what I would also say is that, depending on someone's duration of sleep problem, it can take a long time to reverse a lifetime (or months' or years' worth) of poor habits, so it may be that the body is not quite there yet with getting used to the new patterns, and improved sleep (and cognitive functioning!) will return after a little bit longer.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there,
    Thanks for your post. Reading the information here it made me wonder if low mood/depression was part of the problem at all? Often we hear reports from people who cannot physically move out of bed in the morning as a result of low mood.

    I wonder also, if rise time doesn't matter too much, if a much later alarm would help (I realise you said it didn't matter how late the alarm was set that still the problem persists) but I wondered if an alarm was set as late as 10am (with a later bedtime) before if this may help achieve more sleep at night? Apologies if you've tried an alarm as late as this already..just not sure how late this had been attempted.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Just a few minutes remaining of this session if anyone has any further questions?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
    • 384 helped
    Expert

    That's all for tonight – thanks for all the questions and speak to you all soon.

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