Live Discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 6 Jan 2021

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 6th Jan, from 8.15p to 9.45p British Time or 3.15p to 4.45p 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 31 Dec 2020 at 3:20 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

    • 6 comments
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    Graduate

    Hello

    Can I suggest early waking (and not getting back to sleep) as a topic for Wednesday's chat please?

    Thanks.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 11 comments
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    Graduate

    Like Luanna and 'very tired mum' I am an early waker. I'm not finding the QHR works for me: I definitely agree it is counter-productive to lie awake fretting, but getting up after 15mn (or so), waiting to feel 'sleepy tired' is not helpful, because I never feel 'sleepy tired.'

    I wake at 3 am. I get up, I go to my warm and cosy wind-down place and do a Body Scan, as per the rules. Sometimes I fall asleep in the middle of the Body Scan, and that feels great.

    On the other hand, if wake up there, in my wind-down place, and try to go back to bed I just get tense all over again…and again, which is exhausting.

    So my question is: is it ok just to finish my (SR) night in my warm and cosy wind-down place? Am I being over-anxious and rule-bound even to worry about this?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 7 comments
    • 1 helped
    Graduate

    Hi all i can go to sleep relaxing on the couch but ad soon as i go and lay down the an anxiety kicks in and therefore ca not sleep

    Please Help
    Paul Gibson

  • Sleepio Member

    • 13 comments
    • 2 helped
    Graduate

    On Session 2: (Several questions below)
    Direct early morning sunlight in combination with minimal blue light before bed seems to be helping me to sleep much better at night. Unfortunately I am unable to go outside in the a.m. due to freezing temperatures.
    Is indirect sunlight through a window sufficient?
    Or is a light lamp suggested?
    At night, do you recommend blue light reflective glasses?
    What are your thoughts regarding using red lights at night before bedtime?
    Any thoughts regarding tumeric, warm almond milk and honey before bed?
    Thanks!

  • Sleepio Member

    • 17 comments
    • 6 helped
    Graduate

    the 11:45-5:45 SR window given to me seems way too generous…I get a maximum 4 hours sleep than spend 2 hours in my chair. Woud it be more effective to push my time to, say 1:00 AM?
    Also, I haven't seen any discussion of Advanced Sleep Syndrome, where one falls asleep progressively earlier and wakes way too early, as one ages. Certainly problem, and affects my siblings as well….
    Also, in one of the sessions the Prof suggested a cup of caffeine in the afternoon. Really? This has been off the table for years…
    Thank you, Luanna

  • Sleepio Member

    • 17 comments
    • 6 helped
    Graduate

    sorry to bother, but when I get 3 hours or less, I often wind up with a 20 minute nap around 11 AM, after which I feel so much better. I know the whole theory is based around not napping, but I have read quite a bit of wholistic advice which says rest if you are exhausted. Plus, I'm old, and don't old mammals nap more frequently? and my whole family naps….
    thank you again,
    Luanna

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
    • 555 helped
    Expert

    Hello and happy new year to you all! Welcome to today's live discussion session. We have the next 90 mins together to discuss any Qs relating to sleep or the programme. For those who haven't met me before, I'm Dr Vicki Creanor, a clinical psychologist with an interest in sleep. Please get in touch with any Qs you may have and let's get started…

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Jonly,

    Thanks for getting in touch. It can often be confusing when we have had a period of poor sleep to know whether we've been awake or asleep. It can happen that we are asleep but do have experiences similar to being awake. It's not always so clear cut. The link below may be of interest to you. Getting a more consistent block of sleep is helpful for those experiencing this phenomenon.

    https://www.sleepio.com/articles/sleep-science/can-you-think-youre-awake-when-actually-youre-asle/#:~:text=There%20can%20be%20a%20gray%20area%20between%20wakefulness,your%20internal%20biological%20clock%20may%20help%20with%20this.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Luanna,

    Sleep restriction is one of the hardest, most challenging parts of this programme. Many people feel like it's impossible when they start this, however – it is aimed to be a short term technique and won't be forever. The aim is to avoid lots of time in bed when we're not actually sleeping, so that our brains stop associating our beds with being awake and start associating them with sleep. It may be helpful to get some support from others in the community who have been through sleep restriction to hear their experiences with it.

    It sounds as if you are putting the quarter hour rule into good use – again, this is tough when it seems you are up, then back to bed, then up again – however this should be short term as long as other good sleep hygiene is also followed.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 6 comments
    • 2 helped
    Graduate

    Hello
    Could you help please? I wake too early. Can you tell me how to improve this please? I fall asleep straight away around 11 and wake up 4 onwards. These leaves me struggling to stay awake until bedtime. I'm 49 and believe it could well be the perimenopause (although not hot flushes). I've been an insomniac for 10+ years.

    Many thanks

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Luanna,

    I'll answer all your Qs separately if that's Ok as they seem to cover different topics and it may be helpful for others in the community to do it this way.

    So, hormones do play a big part in our sleep, no doubt about it. There are a couple of Sleepio articles that talk about this – here is a link to one of them that you may find helpful:

    https://www.sleepio.com/articles/sleep-science/menopause-and-sleep-problems/

    In terms of people sleeping in chunks, this has been looked at recently I'm sure although I'm not too familiar on the research personally. I believe that it looked at our sleep habits in the past and found that this was more common than sleeping all night, so there may be some throwbacks to this. This said, I also believe that we can train ourselves to sleep through the night if this is a desired outcome.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi and thanks for getting in touch. It's a really frustrating thing when one wakes up too early. There are a few things to look at here that may help.

    First of all, anxiety, stress and depression all cause early wakening, so if these apply to you, it may be that they are causing this. Getting the right help for these difficulties can have a positive impact on sleep.

    As mentioned above, hormones can also have an impact, so speaking with your GP/family doctor may help to see if there is any help they can offer.

    Ensuring that the bedroom environment is appropriate – dark, quiet and cool…waking early can sometimes be caused by light, noises and heat.

    Limiting alcohol and caffeine in the evening is also important as these are stimulants and can cause early wakening too.

    If these do not help or are not relevant, though, shifting your bedtime a little later may force the body to sleep a little longer. You can gradually increase bedtime by 15 min intervals rather than a larger change.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there – good question. This comes up a lot and it can be confusing. Reading can be considered active because it can engage your brain so much that it is stimulating and thus not helpful before bed. But that all depends on what you are reading! So if it's a book you've read a thousand times, it's not likely to stimulate you as much as a new one. Passive activities tend to be ones that don't require much of your attention and don't get you stimulated. A bath or listening to music may be considered passive. Active activities are things such as walking, talking to someone or doing a difficult crossword puzzle.

    Ultimately, though, try not to get too bogged down in semantics. What you are looking for is activities that relax you and unwind your brain before bed. What that means for one person is different for another. So sometimes it's trial and error to see what works for you.
    Hope that helps…

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there and thanks for this Q as I also believe it must be a common one among new parents.

    The first thing to say is that, like shift workers, having a new baby (or in many cases older children who struggle to sleep as well) is going to affect our sleep. There is no way around this. However, what we can do is look at how to get the best quality sleep we can. There is a Sleepio guide on how to help babies to sleep through the night which may help, however let's be honest – some babies just don't manage it and that's OK. Remaining flexible is key here.

    So, what we can do is look at when our babies sleep. Aiming to get a good chunk of sleep before they wake – or after, depending on when they wake – is helpful. This may mean going to bed when they do if you are tired enough to fall asleep then. Getting a good, consistent bedtime routine will help here (just like it helps baby). Trying not to nap during the day is also going to be helpful (although if you are completely exhausted and in charge of a child, this may be necessary to ensure safety).

    If you set your bedtime slightly earlier to fit with baby's, it may help with sleep restriction.

    I hope that helps.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Bev,
    Thanks for getting in touch. I'm sorry to hear it's so difficult just now.
    I'm sure many people will agree with you about how hard it is to go back to bed when you are comfy and know that bed is a less relaxing place at the moment. The problem is, if you were to stay in your cosy alternative, the brain begins to associate that place – and not bed – with sleepiness and relaxation. This, in turn, leads to bed becoming seen as a negative place. And the cycle continues.
    Although it is, of course, personal choice what each member does and what techniques they follow, this hopefully explains the rationale as to why we recommend the QHR technique.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi Paul,
    First of all, welcome to Sleepio :)
    This is actually a very common problem and similar to the one mentioned in the answer above. The problem is, after a period of poor sleep in our beds, we start to associate it with a place where we toss and turn and do not sleep well. Over the next few weeks, you will learn various techniques that will help to alter this and will help build a more positive association between bed and sleep, allowing for more peaceful sleep there. I wish you all the best on the programme and feel free to use this discussion session along the way.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
    • 555 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hello and thank you for your Qs.

    First of all, direct sunlight is better as I do not believe it would be as helpful through glass – a light box can definitely help in winter months, however and there is good evidence around this as an alternative.

    Blue light filter glasses at night can be helpful to minimise the effect of screens on our production of the sleep hormone, melatonin.

    I'm sorry I'm afraid I have no info on the use of red lights at night, nor turmeric, honey or almond milk, however the reason cow's milk is helpful at night is because it contains tryptophan – it may be worth looking into whether almond milk also contains this?

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi again – I would recommend that if anyone feels their sleep window is too generous, try recalculating it or asking the Sleepio team to do this. Having too wide a window can have an effect on sleep in the early days.

    It's always helpful to have other sleep problems highlighted as you're right – they do affect people often as they reach certain points in life. Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder (ASPD) is common in older adults, while the opposite – Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD) is common in those hitting puberty. The reason they are not too closely looked at in Sleepio is because they belong to a different class of sleep problems known as circadian rhythm disorders which requires slightly different types of interventions as is required for insomnia (which Sleepio focuses on).

    You also mentioned caffeine – you're quite right – caffeine is not really recommended close to bedtime or later in the afternoon however it does have its place if one is needing to stay alert for safety reasons, or if someone is a shift worker. Otherwise, it's best to have caffeine in the earlier part of the day.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Thanks for this Q re naps. So, it's important to remember that Sleepio is not a prescriptive course – it is a guide for people to use what techniques they wish to follow to improve sleep. The theory behind avoiding naps is that when we take one, our sleep pressure – or drive – takes a hit. Staying awake until bedtime means that we are more ready for sleep at that time. Even a 15 min nap in the middle of the day can have a significant effect on how well we sleep at night.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 3131 comments
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    Expert

    That's us for tonight folks – thanks for all the Qs and for raising some interesting topics and points. Speak to you again soon!

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