Live Discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 3rd February 2021

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 3rd February, from 8.15pm to 9.45pm British Time or 3.15pm to 4.45pm US Eastern Time.

They 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. If there are a lot of questions, they may not be able to answer all in the time available, but will try to answer as many as they can.

Please do note that, as per our guidelines, Dr Creanor will not be able to give personal medical advice including those about medication. Their 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 28 Jan 2021 at 5:21 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hello all and welcome to this week's live session. I'm Dr Vicki Creanor – a clinical psychologist with a special interest in sleep behaviour. I'll be here for the next 90 mins to answer any Qs you have on sleep or the Sleepio programme. I see there are some great Qs already waiting, so I'll make my way through these, but if you're on live and want to ask anything, feel free to get in touch!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    P.S. Upon awakening after 5 hours of sleep, I get out of bed and meditate, etc. but I never get sleepy enough to go back to bed…despite efforts to relax.
    Does sleep restriction help with that?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi and thanks for getting in touch. You're doing the right thing here. It can feel repetitive getting out of bed a lot of times through the night to do the quarter hour rule, then returning when sleepy. I wonder, are you timing the 15 mins or just guessing it? I'd always advise guessing it, so that if you're really sleepy you may just fall over to sleep at that point. Clock-watching is bound to make us more alert and less likely to fall over to sleep. I also think it's always better to move to a different room for the quarter hour rule period, if this is possible, rather than sit next to your bed as this may be more frustrating. Over time, as this is repeated, it should have a positive impact on your sleep.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi and thanks for getting in touch. You're doing the right thing here. It can feel repetitive getting out of bed a lot of times through the night to do the quarter hour rule, then returning when sleepy. I wonder, are you timing the 15 mins or just guessing it? I'd always advise guessing it, so that if you're really sleepy you may just fall over to sleep at that point. Clock-watching is bound to make us more alert and less likely to fall over to sleep. I also think it's always better to move to a different room for the quarter hour rule period, if this is possible, rather than sit next to your bed as this may be more frustrating. Over time, as this is repeated, it should have a positive impact on your sleep.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there – thanks for your Qs. First of all, well done with the success so far – it sounds as if you've made great improvements so I imagine that took a lot of hard work.

    In terms of the sleep window, it's fine to move it about to fit with reality as you're more likely to achieve it then – all that we do say is not to move the window about often, as the body and mind work better with a consistent window.

    As for your 2nd Q, sleep restriction mainly targets fragmented sleep patterns to help people sleep in a more solid block. But what I might suggest, when you're awake after 5 hours, is to wait 15 mins in case you fall asleep again, then get up and just sit (away from your room if possible in a dimly lit, cosy area) – don't engage in any activity even meditation – and see if this helps you feel sleepy again. It may be that enjoyment of something like meditation is making you want to stay awake for it…

  • Sleepio Member

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    hi there – as nicolacat advised, it is just a text format that will be available on the site for you to look at later :)

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Thanks for this Q – I'm sure many have had – and will have – this same Q come up for themselves too.

    The idea of a sleep window is to provide some consistency for sleep – if we get used to sleeping at a certain time, it helps sleep overall. So, we advise that people stick to waking up at their wake time, even if they have not had a great night's sleep that night. This is hard at the beginning, definitely, however it usually pays off in the longer run.

    I wonder what things you do when you 'potter' during the quarter hour rule time. Make sure that this time is spent quietly, calmly not really doing anything at all. You want to make the body as relaxed as possible, so trying to sit somewhere with dim light, little noise, nothing stimulating (ie no TV/no eating or drinking) will help the body get into a better state to feel sleepy quicker and then go back to bed.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi pt3 – you're definitely in the right place with Sleepio, as the course is designed around these specific problems. Over the course of the next few weeks, you will learn techniques to help you fall asleep and stay asleep and there is even a technique to target these frustrating thoughts about sleep that creep in and make it harder to achieve your slumber. I hope you find the sessions helpful and feel free to join us during the Wednesday live sessions if you have any Qs about the techniques or your experience with them.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi and welcome to the chat. There is a lot of building research about diet and sleep however it's not my area of expertise as I mainly focus on the psychology of sleep. It might be worth talking to a dietician about this as I'm sure they will have the most up to date knowledge and advice on the subject.

    As a fellow Scot, I feel your pain with our winters and the difficulty in finding ways to exercise! Thankfully, there are many online exercise forums these days – especially given the recent pandemic restrictions – so I wonder of these would help? If you can't get outside for long, even 15 minutes of a walk around the block is helpful to get some fresh air and remind the body clock when it's daytime.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    As a followup to your response to my posting, since i don't suffer from fragmented sleep, will more direct sunlight increase serotonin/melatonin to induce more hours of sleep? Are there recommended foods to induce sleep? My primary care physician suggested that possibly my body does not require 7 hours of sleep like others?????

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there, it is the case that some people experience slightly different sleep pattern to others and always have. As a psychologist, I'm always interested in whether this is natural for them, or whether something helped create this sleep pattern – for example, did it start when thy had young children who woke every couple of hours for a feed or was there something they got into the habit of doing every couple hours, such as going to the loo.

    Whatever the reason for it, if you're looking to consolidate the sleep more, I'd suggest a couple of things. First of all, try and keep as cool as possible in bed – bedclothes, bedsheets, the air temperature. This may reduce the wakenings. Have you been using sleep restriction and the quarter hour rule?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    It sounds as if you fall asleep well, so it may not be things to help induce sleep that you need, more about things that can help you stay asleep longer? So getting exercise during the day is a good step as it tires out the body and also helps the body clock know when it's day and when it's night. Addressing any stress/anxiety/low mood may also be important if you feel these are at play as these are the difficulties that often cause early wakening. But it can be the case that some people just don't need as much sleep as others. I'd still argue with just over 6 hours' sleep you could aim for more though. Certainly the older we get, the less sleep we need. Hope that helps?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Great question – however there is no easy answer to this. It really depends on whether you feel mostly awake or mostly asleep. I would say to ask yourself, out of 100%, how asleep you were. If it's over 50%, you could class it as asleep. Don't worry too much about the diary entries as it can cause more stress. You can always adjust it if you feel it's way off. When you feel in this state, though, ask yourself if you feel awake enough to notice that this is a confusing time. If you can have this level of awareness to notice it, it's likely that you're mostly awake, so I'd still, in that circumstance, try the QHR, otherwise the cycle will continue.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hello Dr Creanor
    I fall asleep quite quickly but I wake up in about two hours and then often wake up every two hours or so through the night. I have followed all the guidance with the Sleepio program and this till happens. I know there is the 90 minute sleep cycle and many people turn over without waking up. I have read that the 90 minute cycle happens so that the body moves to increase blood circulation. Is there any research into this?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there – thanks for getting in touch. Well done on the improvements you've made so far.

    So, in response to the first Q, it's perfectly OK to use the sofa for wind down and QHR – the only thing we would recommend against is having a nap on it or sleeping for the night on it. It sounds as if you're using your bed for sleep and the sofa appropriately.

    In terms of the thoughts at bedtime, this is a common occurrence – our minds are less distracted in bed so the thoughts have more of a chance to pop into our heads and stick around. It might be worth trying some scheduled worry time. Setting aside 30 mins per day – well away from bed time – where you write down any worries you're having and think about possible solutions for the important ones. This means that, at bedtime, they are less likely to pop into your head because either they were dealt with that day or you will know you have another scheduled worry time set for the next day.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Hi – I'm not aware of the research but that's not to say there isn't any out there. The sleep cycles do tend to follow a 90 min pattern as you say. But the main issue here is what happens when a person wakes. If it is possible to calm the body and mind enough to fall back to sleep, then wakenings like this are OK. Part of what keeps poor sleep going is the worry we attach to the wakenings. Good sleepers will wake up fully at times, but then not see it as a problem and get back to sleep. Your original post has been deleted so can you remind me what happens when you wake again please?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi there, thanks for your question. It is, unfortunately, something that occurs more frequently as we age. It's pretty common for people in their 70s to need to go to the loo a couple times during the night. It may be worth asking your GP/doctor if there are any ways to help this if it is bothering you, however what I would say, in terms of sleep, is that it is more about the emotion you feel towards the wakenings that will affect your sleep. If you see it as natural and are able to get back to bed and relax back into sleep afterwards, then it won't be as much of an issue, however if it frustrates and angers you, this will have an effect on sleep as the body will be more aroused when trying to get back to sleep.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Thanks for your answer. Would you say reading is ok in my late night awake time due to the QRH? Usually I am awake about 3am to 4:30am and then get sleepy again. I have been doing this about a week and have done reading and some jigsaw puzzle in that time.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    Hi Robert, so it depends on the book. I'd always opt for one that you've read a few times before so that you're not having to concentrate too much. You want to be as passive as possible. I might avoid jigsaws during this time just because they can tax the brain quite a lot when you want it to unwind.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Expert

    That's all for today – thank you for all the great questions. Take care and speak to you again soon.

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