Women And Insomnia - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

08/2/03

Women And Insomnia

The majority of Americans, especially women suffer something night after night that can actually have deadly consequences. We're talking about insomnia! Not only can restless nights lead to bleary-eyed days, studies show there can be serious health risks.  Here are some ways we can all rest easier.

Crawling under the sheets and getting a full night's sleep is only a dream for many, especially women. 

According to the national sleep foundation, nearly two-thirds of women now suffer from insomnia ... Meaning they have trouble falling or staying asleep.  Dr. Joyce Walsleben of the NYU Sleep Disorder Center says, "In my practice, I tend to see it in more women."

Why? Dr. Walsleben, who authored "A Women's Guide To Sleep", says women are simply different animals than men.

"We have bubbling hormones and we tend to clutch to our problems and take them to bed."

Research shows women who sleep five or fewer hours have a 45-percent higher risk of heart attack than women who get eight hours of shut-eye. Those who sleep six hours a night boost their risk by 18 percent.

"There are a variety of cardiovascular adverse effects in short-term sleep deprivation," says sleep researcher, Dr. Najib Ayas.

And five or fewer hours can increase your risk of symptomatic diabetes by 30%!

"It scares me, it makes me think that I probably need to re-adjust my lifestyle," says Michelle Crews who suffers from sleep deprivation.

How can women re-adjust? We followed three typical insomniacs and sought Dr. Walsleben's expert advice.

First up: Michelle... who has a tough time falling asleep after working two jobs. "I'll be physically exhausted but my mind will just be spinning."

Dr. Walsleben's suggestion? Calcium-magnesium pills as a sleep aid.

"It may allow her to let her body just slow down ," says Dr. Walsleben.

" I just fall asleep, sheer and total exhaustion. Subsequently, it's 2 and 1/2 hours later and I wake up."  For Nancie, staying asleep's the problem. Her house is always full... so our expert says: make the bedroom a haven, and keep the alarm clock hidden.

"If you have one eye on a clock, the issue is that you remind yourself that you're awake," says Dr. Walsleben.

Then, there's Mayra, working and going for her master's. Instead of sleeping, she keeps a mental"to do" list. The doctor says: keep a diary.

"What I'm suggesting: a worry book," says Walsleben.

Mayra, Michelle, and Nancie say they'll definitely give these tips a shot... for health's sake.

"If you told me that you could give me a way for me to fall asleep at night, I would tell you bring it on," says Mayra Ortiz.

So, how are the tips working? Michelle says she saw an improvement the very first night she took the calcium-magnesium pills. Mayra's purging her woes with her worry book. She says it makes her less anxious and is able to sleep better. And Nancie is still in the process of making her room a haven.

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