3 Real Women With 3 Real Sleep Problems
We asked WebMD's sleep expert to help these tired ladies learn to get some shut-eye again.
Insomnia: Too stressed to sleep continued...
"And there’s nothing wrong with asking for help," he added. "As a working
mom juggling a career, a marriage, and two kids, Stewart should ask her husband
to pitch in during the evening so they can both relax their way into a restful
Try therapy. Finally, Breus said, Stewart might try cognitive
behavioral therapy, which teaches a person how to recognize certain thoughts
and situations that dictate behavior. "In Stewart’s case, it could change the
shut-eye habits and nighttime routines that might be getting in the way of her
slumber," Breus adds. "This type of therapy can be more effective than sleeping
pills -- with better results that last longer."
Today, Stewart lives -- and sleeps -- by many of Breus’ recommendations,
such as avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, winding down away from her computer
in the evening, minimizing stress, and relying more on her husband for
"My sleep has improved significantly since I was diagnosed and started
making changes in my life and my nighttime habits," says Stewart. Living with
insomnia, however, is no bed of roses.
While Breus notes that most people have a short bout of the disorder for a
week or two and then return to a more normal shut-eye pattern, Stewart is one
of the 10% to 15% of U.S. adults with chronic insomnia. Breus describes that
condition as "the continual battle for better sleep." But Stewart sounds as if
she is on the right track, says Breus. "She might consider cognitive behavioral
therapy to take it one step further, but she’s making many of the right moves
now to maximize her sleep."
Restless Leg Syndrome: Like Bugs Under the Skin
Lynne Kaiser’s earliest memory from her childhood is walking into the family
bathroom, filling up a hot water bottle, and bringing it to bed with her. It
was the only way she could keep the muscles in her legs relaxed, so they
wouldn’t move and she could fall asleep. She was 4 years old and she already
had restless leg syndrome.
Forty-one years later, Kaiser, who lives in Dallas, was still taking a water
bottle to bed, but the uncontrollable urge to move her legs wasn’t her only
problem. "I could feel it throughout my body, like the sensation of bugs
crawling under my skin on my head and shoulders, and a tension in my muscles."
Kaiser’s symptoms were a nightmare: The exhaustion, pain coursing through her
body, and constant movement in her legs would force her into a shallow state of
relaxation, usually after 5 a.m. She was so tired, she says, that exercising,
relaxing, and other healthy habits didn’t feel like an option for her. Even the
occasional drink to celebrate a special occasion like a birthday made sleep