Do you have trouble sleeping? If so, you are definitely not alone. Insomnia is an epidemic and in our survey of more than 1,000 women this summer, we discovered that 42 percent of them sleep less than six hours per night. That’s a big problem, because the average adult needs around seven or eight hours for a good night’s rest. We all know that sleep is important for our mood and our productivity, but it’s also important for the health of our brains, hearts, and even skin.
The good news is there is a great treatment out there that research shows can help people suffering with insomnia, but in all likelihood you haven’t heard of it—until now. It’s called cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBTi for short. It literally teaches you how to change the way you think and your behavior around sleep so that you can fall asleep faster, sleep through the night, and feel refreshed in the morning. The bad news is that there are very few experts trained in how to do it. As a result, a number of online programs have sprung up to fill the void, but are they any good? On tomorrow’s show we put them to the test on real women who haven’t slept well for years. These women have a host of problems with their sleep; get to know them below and see if they have any of the same problems that you have. Watch to see what happens on the show tomorrow and then check back here on the blog to see how they do over the next several months. We’ve given each of them a ResMed S+ sleep tracker so we can objectively measure how well they are doing along the way.
Holly (first on the left)
Holly’s sleep problems began 20 years ago when she got a job that required her to take calls in the middle of the night. She now averages around four hours of fragmented sleep a night. That’s tough for her, because she currently works 10 to 12 hour days as the office manager at her husband’s law firm. Holly is a bit of a workaholic and always has her cell phone nearby to check emails and often brings work into bed with her. Since she is so exhausted though at the end of the day, she has no trouble falling asleep, but she has a lot of trouble staying asleep. She states that she suffers from a constantly racing mind that once she wakes up keeps her up. She would love to sleep a few more hours each night.
Holly’s baseline sleep score on her sleep tracker is 67 out of 100—that’s basically a D. On average she takes about 15 minutes to fall asleep, sleeps 4.5 hours per night, and wakes up about three times during the night.
Faye (third from the right)
Faye has been dealing with sleep problems since 1997, when she was a full-time public school teacher in Atlanta. Her typical night consists of falling asleep at 11p.m. only to wake at 3 a.m. She then usually lies awake for hours in her bed struggling to fall asleep, until 6:30 a.m. when she has to get up. This lack of sleep is really hard on her, because she not only has a full-time job, but also is a caregiver for her mother and consistently puts others first. Faye desperately wants to change her sleep habits for the better.
Faye is failing sleep. Her baseline score is 44 out of 100. On average she sleeps about three and a half hours per night, takes about 30 minutes to fall asleep, and wakes up about five times during the night.
Julie (first on the right)
Julie has had trouble with sleep since childhood. She says that her mind is often so packed with thoughts that she can never sleep through the night. Julie’s sleep is erratic. She doesn’t have a set bedtime, but typically tries to go to bed somewhere around 10 p.m. only to wake up at midnight, then falls asleep at 2 a.m., and finally wakes up at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. Her lack of sleep was a blessing when her children were newborns, but now that they are teenagers, it is draining! She even says it can be dangerous, especially when she has so many things to do during the day. She has tried prescription sleep medications with minimal improvement and she feels her lack of sleep is having an overall negative effect on her health.
Julie also gets an F in sleep with a score of 55 out of 100 according to the ResMed S+. On average she sleeps 4.75 hours, wakes up about six times, and takes about 45 minutes to fall asleep.
Shelly-Ann (second from the left)
Shelly-Ann has had trouble sleeping for two decades now, ever since her daughter was born. Her sleep at night is so bad and she is so exhausted during the day that she falls asleep everywhere, including at the movies and in her car at stoplights. She goes to bed around 11 p.m., but wakes up in the middle of the night, usually around 3 a.m. and lies awake until morning. She believes that anxiety and depression may contribute to her sleep issues, and she has been greatly affected by the recent loss of her mother. Even though she knows it’s not a good idea, she does a lot of things in bed other than sleep including frequently bringing her laptop and iPad to do work, watching television, and chatting on the phone.
Shelly-Ann gets a solid D for her sleep, with a typical score of 63 out of 100 on her ResMed S+ tracker. It takes her about 30 minutes to fall asleep and then she sleeps only about four and a half hours.