To celebrate World Sleep Day 2020, Unmind hosted a webinar to talk about all things sleep!

We were joined by Professor Jason Ellis, professor of sleep science, who took us through common questions to help us all sleep better – in whatever shape or form that looks like for us.

You questions from the webinar, answered:Β 

  • πŸ’¬ Pregnancy is impacting my sleep, I used to sleep all night now I'm waking up every night. What can I do?Β 
  • πŸ‘‰ Pregnancy is a difficult time in terms of sleep, especially the third trimester. This is one of the few times I say have a nap. Try to make it earlier in the day (before 4pm) and keep it short (20-30 minutes).

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  • πŸ’¬ It has been shown that night shift workers have far more health problems than day shift workers due to lack of natural melotonin cycle so is timing not important in terms of when you are able to sleep?
  • πŸ‘‰ Routine, as much as is possible, is important whether you work days or nights shifts. It is true that there are more health consequences for night shift workers but part of that issue is about not getting enough good quality sleep when you can.

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  • πŸ’¬ Any tips to stop snoring?
  • πŸ‘‰ So, if it is just snoring and not, for example, aponea (where your airway becomes obstructed at night), a mandibular advancement device may well be helpful. It keeps the airway open which reduces the amount of snoring.Β 

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  • πŸ’¬ How can I get good sleep during the menopause?
  • πŸ‘‰ Menopause is a challenging time for many women with regard to sleep. Awakenings are normal but not getting back off to sleep is not. Keeping the bedroom cool is helpful and take your feet out from under the blankets when you are too hot.

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  • πŸ’¬ I often wake around 4am with my mind being very active - and is often a time when I come up with some good ideas to problems I'm facing. Β I try to write things down to get them out of my mind, but doesn't always work. Β I do try the racing mind Unmind app and that seems to help, but I worry if I'm getting into a bad habit, rather than a good one.
  • πŸ‘‰ Keeping a notepad next to the bed is helpful but waking in the night to address problems could easily become a bad habit. Try writing down all your problems and concerns about two hours before bedtime. That should help clear the mind and leave you feeling like you are in control.

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  • πŸ’¬ Is it ok to sleep if you feel the need to do so outside of the usual sleep pattern? Should we treat this as a priority and try to acomodate a short nap into our schedule?
  • πŸ‘‰ There is a difference between wanting a nap, which I tend to discourage, and needing a nap which you should do. If you need a nap that is usually an indicator of an issue with the quality, quantity or timing of your current sleep pattern and that needs to be investigated.

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  • πŸ’¬ Can we "oversleep" in terms of number of hours per night? Is there a maximum number of hours that we can sleep without it being called a sleep disorder?
  • πŸ‘‰ Oh yes, too much sleep may be as bad for you as not enough. How much is enough; well, that is tricky as we are all different but the current guidelines suggest that for adults, more than 10-11 hours is not recommended.Β 

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  • πŸ’¬ I feel most awake in the evening/at night, and often have a surge of energy and focus in the late hours. I am then tired when I have to wake up for work and only feel rested on weekends when I can follow my natural pattern. How do I combat this with a traditional work routine?
  • πŸ‘‰ That is a challenge. Making sure the bedroom is a sleep conducive environment is key but and this is going to require willpower, getting up at the same time every morning will help you keep a good sleep balance.

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  • πŸ’¬ Is it ok to have music or sounds on while sleeping?
  • πŸ‘‰ Absolutely. If you dont have a problem sleeping then music is fine. That said, if you are having problems getting off to sleep or staying asleep I would forgo the music for a while.

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  • πŸ’¬ Related to teeth grinding, is tongue thrusting/sucking - what are the recommendations to halt this habit during sleep?
  • πŸ‘‰The best thing you can do is talk to your dentist about a special mouthguard for sleep. It is best to see a dentist for this as they will be able to create a bespoke one for you.

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  • πŸ’¬ My 5 yr old grinds his teeth, should I do anything about this or is this normal for children?
  • πŸ‘‰ Toothgrinding is more common in children than in adults but it is still worth talking to the dentist about it.They will be able to keep an eye on the situation and advise on what can be done if and when it becomes a problem.

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  • πŸ’¬ Thoughts on best way to track sleep?
  • πŸ‘‰ It's a good question. I tend to advise against trackers if you feel you have a problem with your sleep as this can add to the anxiety. If this is the case, keep a sleep diary instead and talk to your GP. If you are sleeping fine and not at all anxious about your sleep then trackers are a great way to give you an overview on how you are sleeping.Β 

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  • πŸ’¬ When I can’t sleep, I pick up my iphone and scroll through Facebook, and it helps me fall asleep. Β Is that a bad thing?
  • πŸ‘‰ It's not a great thing to do as the blue light emitted from our devices can suppress the hormone which helps us sleep. Also, in modern society the instant nature of social media can also arouse us as we are waiting for a response, sometimes anxiously.Β 

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  • πŸ’¬ Any suggestions for a light sleeper?
  • πŸ‘‰ I would definitely recommend ear plugs in this case. Alternatively, and this may sound odd, but white and pink noise mask all other noises and can also help. The thing to do is to play the white/pink noise in the daytime, when you are fully awake, as your brain will get used to it and not disturb you at night.

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  • πŸ’¬ What is your advice about lying in at the weekend? Β Sounds like you don’t recommend it?
  • πŸ‘‰ It depends. If you don't have a problem with your sleep I say go for it. Although, I would caveat that with try not to do it on both nights as the Sunday morning lie in may make it harder for you to get to sleep on Sunday night, which for many of us is a vulnerable night as we are getting into work mode. If you do have a problem sleeping I would not advise lying in and getting some help instead.

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  • πŸ’¬ What about nightmares that do appear to wake you up? Or recurring dreams? Can you do anything about that?
  • πŸ‘‰ It's an interesting question. If you remember a nightmare it indicates that you are awake and the question is, what has woken you up? For many of us waking at the end of a sleep cycle, when we are vulnerable to waking up, is when we will most likely remember dream. If you consolidate your sleep, perhaps by reducing how much time you are in bed by a little bit (try in iterations of 15 minutes), however, you are less likely to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle. If the nightmares are problematic to you then it is always worth talking to a professional.

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