Live discussion with Dr Vicki Creanor - 6th September 2017

Dr Creanor will be hosting a live online discussion here on Wednesday 6th September, 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 31 Aug 2017 at 4:11 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    • 1 helped
    Graduate

    Hello, my sleep efficiency is between 70-80%, which gives the impression that I have good sleep. My sleep quality however is consistently poor or very poor, mainly because I wake up repeatedly all night long. Is restricting sleep the best way to increase sleep quality?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 26 comments
    • 2 helped
    Graduate

    Hi Dr. Creanor
    I am really struggling and desperately need advice. I have started a new job which involves me driving 3 hours a day. I have tried going to bed earlier so I an get up earlier but it just fills me with so much anxiety that I cant get to sleep. I also have a problem of breaking out of a sleepless night pattern. The past 3 days I have only slept 5 hours. I have a sleepless night then the next day I am thinking about and resolving to have a good nights sleep. I revisit the prof sessions so I know what to do but when it comes to bed time I cant switch off. I spend an hour trying to get to sleep. Then I go downstairs and do some light reading but Im still thinking about how to get a good nights sleep. Inevitably I dont get any sleep.

    I was so exhausted and frustrated I went to the Doctor and asked for sleeping pills he gave me Zopiclone but warned me about getting addicted. I don't want to take pills that leave me addicted But I am so frustrated and exhausted.

    Please help. Any advice would be much appreciated

    Sag

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
    • 384 helped
    Expert

    Hello and welcome to the live Sleepio session. This is a forum to ask questions on the psychology of sleep or the Sleepio programme itself. I'll wait a few minutes to see if anyone is looking for answers live, then I'll make my way through the posts waiting…

  • Sleepio Member

    • 110 comments
    • 32 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hello Dr Creanor,

    I'm here live, but have already posted my question.

    Doodle

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
    • 384 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there,
    Thanks for your post. What we often find is that reduced stress does lead to better sleep and often people report that sleep quality improves first (which is important to get the basics of sleep back on track) before the length of sleep starts to get loner as the body gets used to better sleep patterns. I think sleep quality and quantity are influenced by many things but this is the order we often see things changing. Hope that helps…

  • Sleepio Member

    • 7 comments
    • 0 helped
    Session 5

    Hello. I've been told that I will graduate next week but I don't understand how. My sleep is still terrible. I'm already really worried about sleeping tonight and feel so worked up. I try thought blocking and all the other tools I've been given but cannot hold my attention for more than a minute. I'm very much affected at work and am feeling really down.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 110 comments
    • 32 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Thank you for that Dr Creanor….very interesting, Doodle

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi and thanks for your post,
    First of all what I would say is to make sure the diary is being filled out accurately…so last wakening should be 4.30 if this is when you last wake, but if people then stay in bed til 6am I believe there is a diary entry that asks for time out of bed (correct me if I am wrong?) and here you would put 6am.
    Secondly, though, it is vital that if one wakens at 4.30 and cannot get back to sleep within 15 minutes that they get out their bedroom and sit elsewhere. This 90 minutes lying in bed without sleeping is extremely detrimental to the bed-sleep connection in the brain and will undo lots of work done in sleep training if the 'quarter hour rule' is not followed.
    Lastly, people can read in bed ONLY IF they do so for a short period of time AND they fall asleep straight away afterwards. Otherwise you have the same problem as above – time spent in bed awake is detrimental to all other techniques being implemented.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there thanks for your question.
    Without knowing any more details it is hard to say exactly, but it's worth looking at the difference in these days where you don't sleep well compares to the ones where you do…are they more stressful? Is alcohol involved? More caffeine? Too much exercise? Different routines? Different bedtime routines? Worth looking at these factors to see what may be causing the difference. It may also be that there was a slight pattern of a good night, then a poor night once, but since then you may have come to expect this pattern, so psychologically on each alternative night, underlying anxiety is higher and thus sleep is worse, yet the next night you may relax more into sleep expecting it to be better. Poor sleep can be a self-fulfilling prophecy at times…

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Sorry – only half answered that question! How to solve this.. I see you are a graduate? Once looking at the potential factors at play, it is wise to go back over all the techniques learned before and put them into practice gradually, one at a time, to help get things back on track.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi and sorry to hear this. But you are right – sleep restriction would be helpful here to squeeze all the bits of broken sleep together into a solid sleep block. Follow the technique as before and incorporate all the other techniques too (as they compliment each other) rather than just doing restriction. So make sure the quarter hour rule is implemented, good sleep hygiene, good routines before bed, standard rise and sleep times etc etc

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hello and thanks for the post – sorry to hear it's a struggle just now. When people struggle to get to sleep, a few things can help to put back in place:
    – a standard bedtime routine/wind down time to help the body relax and learn it is time for bed
    – set bedtimes and rise times
    – challenging negative thoughts
    – a scheduled worry time (in daytime and not close to evening) to think about worries in a ringfenced time period so they are less likely to creep out at bedtime

    BUT...what I would strongly emphasise here is safety. Be very careful if doing any sleep work or taking sleeping pills if you do a lot of driving. Worth talking this over with the family doctor and alerting them to the fact you drive a lot in your job.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there sorry I missed your post there…people graduate from the programme once all the techniques have been taught and the programme ends, with an expectation that people continue with the techniques after graduation. It's set up like many therapies whereby a set number of sessions are offered and then the person works on what they've learned after they leave. People do see improvements at different paces, though, and it is common for some people to notice changes after they graduate. It all depends on what is going in life, what factors are influencing sleep and how long the problem has been around.

    If there are signs of low mood, though, it is important to speak to someone about this as this often has an impact on sleep, too. Seeing the GP/family doctor is usually the best route if this is a symptom for people.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 110 comments
    • 32 helped
    Graduate

    My sleep window is approaching, so this is just to say thank you for your help tonight, Dr Creanor.

    Night night,

    Doodle.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    you're welcome – speak to you again soon

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
    • 384 helped
    Expert

    it's very quiet out there – still 30 mins left of the session if anyone has any questions….

  • Sleepio Member

    • 26 comments
    • 2 helped
    Graduate

    Hi Dr Creanor
    Just went to my GP today. He says to ask you as he is not a sleep expert. So what would you advise?

    Regards

    Sag

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
    • 384 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Expert

    Hi there – the suggestions I noted before are important when people are struggling to fall asleep initially but I suppose I was just mentioning the safety aspect as it's important when people mention they drive a lot when tired. If needed, take a break during long driving trips – you will be the best judge of this if you feel sleepy at the wheel. Hope that helps?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 2510 comments
    • 384 helped
    Expert

    that's all for this evening – thanks for the comments and questions – speak again soon…

  • Sleepio Member

    • 95 comments
    • 54 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Katrina, here is a copy of part of a reply I wrote to Sag on her profile which I think might apply to you to some extent
    .
    “Dear Sag, my heart goes out to you thinking of the great challenge you face in your situation. I'm guessing the long commute to work means you need to leave fairly early in the morning, and when you get home after work, there's not a lot of evening left for you. So trying to squeeze in a generous wind-down time might be tough in the midst of other things you need to do later in the day, also. I can relate to the anxiety of needing to fall asleep right away at night because of responsibilities or other activities happening the next day. It's the one aspect of my own sleep situation I've not been able to master as it seems to be a deeply psychological obstacle. The tools and techniques of Sleepio are genuinely helpful, but not the complete answer for certain times like these, it seems.

    Let's look at it this way… lately, you've only been sleeping about 5 hours a night, or less. That makes me think of the Sleep Restriction mode which builds sleep pressure, so sooner or later, your mind and body WILL go to sleep. Are you practicing the fundamentals of a regular bedtime, a good wind down time, and getting out of bed when you aren't sleeping? When you do get up in the night, don't stay up for long. Try just sitting in the dark or a dim area for about 15 min. then try again to go to sleep.

    Use your wind-down time to try and process those active thoughts--- get them ready for bed, too, so-to-speak. Write down your concerns, things you need to do or remember, etc. When you lie down to sleep, if you find unwanted thoughts taking over, calmly tell them, “no not now, save it for later, this is not the time, we don't need to go there right now,” etc. Do you ever try listening to something, like calm & soothing music, dull books on CD or non-stimulating podcasts, or inspirational messages? How about the prof's 'autogenic training'? That is often helpful to me for stilling my thoughts.

    Via someone here on Sleepio, I found a website called mysleepbutton.com with an app that is very simple, where someone reads words or phrases of random scenes, or objects you mentally draw. (You choose what you want to listen to.) You can set it to go as long or short as you want. I've got it on my iphone under my pillow and listen with one earbud. The idea may seem kind of silly, but for me it works like a charm most nights for getting my mind off random thoughts which always seem to vie for my attention and hinder falling asleep. I've got it set for about 12 -15 minutes, and usually I'm asleep before it ends. (You can get a free 3-try sample from the website).

    Try your best to cast off the anxiety of not sleeping and the frustration it causes. Are you getting any kind of exercise and fresh air? Do you drink enough water during the day? Do you generally eat a healthy diet getting enough vitamins and minerals, and not eating a full meal too close to bedtime? All these things are factors for calm minds and bodies and work into the scope of our physical experience.

    I do hope you get some sleep-filled relief very soon. You will be okay. I know it's not fun to feel so uncomfortable day after day due to insufficient sleep, but giving in to anxiety and frustration only makes matters worse. Commiserate here a little bit, for it's a good outlet for some of that anxiety. At least you know you are not alone.”

    I hope this is a little bit helpful, Katrina. Don't give up now. It can feel worse before it gets better, but it eventually does work. You may need to tweak a thing or two to find what works best for you, but overall, the recommendations are effective.

    All the best,

    Chickatee

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