Live discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 29th November 2017

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 29th November, 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, including that concerning medication. 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 23 Nov 2017 at 4:28 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Early morning wakening is a common problem people talk about when their sleep goes off track. I can see the logic, but what we are trying to help people with is get a more natural sleep pattern back. Setting an alarm for earlier, to try and get back to sleep, may have negative consequences such as then not being able to drift back to sleep even earlier in the night.

    What can work for those experiencing early morning wakenings consistently, is to set bedtime slightly earlier and then wake earlier naturally, so the same time is spent asleep.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Cortisol is what is released when we are stressed and there is a significant link between stress and poor sleep. Early morning wakenings often occur in people who are feeling under pressure, stressed or who are experiencing some underlying psychological problem.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Sometimes poor sleep is triggered by a period of disruption – psychological distress/grief/stress/illness/lifestyle change – but even when things get back to normal, our sleep takes longer to adjust.

    This happens for a number of reasons, including potential residual stress (that exists only in the subconscious) and poor habits we have begun during the unsettled period.

    Sleepio helps get people back into better sleeping habits as well as helping them to feel more relaxed, thus targeting different aspects of what may be maintaining someone's poor sleep.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there. The reason there are so many different types out there is because everyone has an individual preference for what they find comfortable. So there's no 'right' one across the board, I'm afraid.

    What may be happening, though, when people start focussing on specifics about the sleep environment, is that there is a general anxiety about sleep building up, which gets focussed onto one thing. Usually we like to find a reason for our anxiety – it's a very human trait – but for those who finds themselves in this mindset, it might be worth looking at whether it truly is about the sleeping materials/other single factors or whether there is a wider anxiety at play.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there – there is a building research area about this phenomenon. It is known as having an “earworm”. What might help those with this problem at bedtime is to engage in a technique used to combat annoying thoughts in your head. Repetition of the word “the” over and over can help to block thoughts, so it may also help to block songs, too. Another suggestion is to think of another song and repeat this instead over and over instead – this way it is a song you are in control of, rather than the other way around.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi – please see above comment re earworms…

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Thanks for your post. It can be more tricky when people have very little sleep. The idea behind sleep restriction is to add together all the little bits of sleep that usually occur throughout the day/night together in a lump, with an aim of a more solid sleep at night. As such, naps (even those grabbed in the morning) should be avoided and stored up for the night time. The only exceptions would be if someone is working shifts/takes naps under medical advice/is driving or doing a job where naps are important for safety. Other techniques within the programme will help with getting longer periods of sleep, so sleep restriction will be easier when this occurs. In the meantime, I would advise someone in this position to 1) cut out naps unless unsafe to do so, 2) add all bits of sleep together in any case and aim for that one chunk in the night time sleep window.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there – thanks for getting in touch. Have a look at the library article “Is it true that we tend to sleep better later in the night?” – it describes what you have mentioned.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi and thanks for your post. Some people who find it hard to switch tasks from an active to passive phase find that setting an alarm helps. It may be that an alarm is set and a bath is started, so that when the alarm goes off, there is an immediate task to do, even if it is a relaxing one (bath)? Sometimes it's just about getting into new habits that is hard, but sticking to them helps the more time goes on and this becomes the new norm. It sounds as if you have done really well so far.

  • Sleepio Member

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    There is a core ideal in sleep behaviour advice that recommends that the bedroom is kept purely for sleep (and sexual activity). This ensures that the bed- sleep connection in the brain is a positive, healthy one. It means that the brain automatically starts to tune into sleepiness when it sees the bed/bedroom and this promotes good sleep. If other activities take place in the bedroom, it muddies the water slightly. Once sleep is back on track, people may wish to do relaxation in the bedroom, but if it takes any longer than 15 minutes of being in bed and sleeping, it should be done outwith the bedroom.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi – thanks for the post. We go through cycles in our sleep every night. These last approx 90 minutes and we experience lighter sleep at the end/start of these cycles. So many of us stir around these points. It is very natural to wake once or twice a night and often it is at this point. The important thing is managing to get back to sleep again. Don't worry about the wakening if getting back to sleep is OK – good sleepers do this too.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hopefully you can see them OK? It is just a case of selecting the discussion thread and refreshing the page regularly to see new comments.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hi,

    I take your point about natural cycles but I do feel sometimes as if I am almost scared of sleeping as the first wake up might be much less than the cycle time of 90 mins – like half an hour or something.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    It is quite common in the early stages of people working on their sleep to have early wakening, at various times of the night. Often it is anxiety-fuelled. Keeping to a consistent bedtime routine can help, incorporating relaxation, as well as implementing the quarter hour rule when awake longer than 15 mins. Over time, people often find that these wakenings fizzle out.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hope so! Thanks

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Just a few more minutes of the session if anyone has any other questions…

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    That's all for tonight – thanks for the posts – speak to you again soon.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    great many thanks

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 4

    Thanks for the feedback much appreciated. The residual stress you talk about is a mystery to me. With exception to the sleep disorder, I am less stressed than I have ever been. My sub-conscious feels like it's working against me.. it's completely unfathomable.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    what if you don't have naps to add up? How long can a person survive on less than three hours a night?

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