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...
The Sleep Doctor's Rx for Insomnia
When we asked Michael Breus, PhD -- WebMD's Sleep Expert -- for advice on
Stewart's insomnia, he noted that "an inability to sleep at night is like not
being able to breathe. Lack of sleep starves a person of the energy she needs
to perform well, stay healthy, and enjoy life. Over time, the more sleep
Stewart misses, the higher her likelihood of developing heart disease,
diabetes, and depression."
Breus' advice for Stewart focused on making simple lifestyle changes and
maximizing her mental health to jump-start her sleep. To do that, he said, she
Say no to joe. "Stewart should start by cutting back on caffeine -- a
central nervous system stimulant that winds the body up and gets in the way of
sleep," Breus says. "A good rule is to avoid any caffeine after 2:30 in the
afternoon. That way it will have eight or nine hours to clear her system before
she winds down for the night."
Balance it out. Next, "she needs to find more balance in her life,
especially between career and family," Breus advised. "Working overtime as a
nurse should be the exception, not the rule, and time with her family should
focus on quality. She can’t do that if she’s overbooked and stressed."
Make life changes. Breus also noted that some of Stewart's habits
need to change. "Instead of logging on in the evening, she should 'power down'
and move her mind closer to a sleep state by shutting off the TV an hour before
bed, not working on the computer, and dimming the lights to relax," Breus says.
Too much light and mental stimulus signals the neurons in the brain that help
control the sleep-wake cycle to stay active.
"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."