Jennifer Aniston on Living with Insomnia and Sleep Hacks That Help

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After years of living with insomnia, Jennifer Aniston says a conversation with her doctor helped put her on the right track to improving the quality of her sleep. Photograph courtesy of Idorsia
  • Jennifer Aniston has teamed up with the Seize the Night & Day program to raise awareness about insomnia.
  • Insomnia is a disorder in which a person has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • About 30% of adults have symptoms of insomnia.

She doesn’t remember exactly when her sleep issues started, but iconic actress Jennifer Aniston says it was decades ago.

“It’s a little hard to pinpoint because I think when we’re young, if we’re not sleeping, we’re like ‘oh, I feel good.’ You can sleep two hours, three hours, four hours and you don’t feel the effects,” Aniston told Healthline.

However, she joked that the accumulation of “all that arrogance over the years” finally caught up with her in her thirties, adding in earnest that if she didn’t get enough sleep, she wouldn’t function well. .

“I didn’t have the motivation to do my exercise, I wasn’t going to eat well, [I had] brain fog; wasn’t learning my lines,” Aniston said.

After years of trying “everything under the sun,” from counting steps to her bed and lines on her ceiling to checking her bedroom temperature and more, Aniston finally decided to enlist the help of his doctor.

At the time, her priorities were diet and exercise, followed by sleep. However, she did not understand why her diet and exercises were becoming difficult.

When her doctor asked her if she was sleeping well, Aniston told her, “Well, I sleep a little, I guess. ” I [realized I] was unaware…around my sleep,” she said.

It was around this time that Aniston began to learn about insomnia. Her doctor explained to her that sleep should be her number one priority because during sleep the body rejuvenates and without sleep the body is negatively affected during the day.

It resonated with Aniston.

“You start noticing, ‘I’m lethargic, I don’t want to exercise, I eat very badly, I have dark circles under my eyes’, you know all sorts of things start happening, and it’s not than the effects of sleep deprivation,” she says.

While everyone gets a bad night’s sleep when stressed, Jennifer Martin, PhD, clinical psychologist and president-elect of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), said that for most people, once as the stress subsides, they begin to sleep normally again.

“However, for some people, what happens is that short-term stress leads to chronic sleep issues,” Martin told Healthline.

She said insomnia is considered a sleep disorder (also called chronic insomnia) if you experience any of the following symptoms at least three times a week for at least three months:

  • Having trouble falling asleep
  • I can’t stay asleep
  • Waking up too early in the morning

“It’s not uncommon for someone with insomnia to be so tired at the end of the day that they fall asleep for a while, then wake up in the middle of the night or in the wee hours of the morning and can’t go back to sleep,” Martin said.

Aniston has said throughout her life that she has experienced all three forms of insomnia, each affecting her functioning during the day.

There are two layers to how insomnia affects people during the day, Martin explained, including:

  • Not feeling good. “Maybe they have physical symptoms – may feel headaches or body aches or stomach aches, difficulty concentrating or concentrating, may feel drowsy or tired and exhausted,” a- she declared.
  • Feeling anxious about not sleeping. “Many people with insomnia start worrying about their insomnia and feeling anxious as bedtime approaches. All the pressure to get a decent night’s sleep makes it worse,” Martin said. .

The AASM reports that for adults, about 30% have symptoms of insomnia, 10% have insomnia severe enough to cause daytime consequences, and less than 10% are likely to have chronic insomnia.

However, Martin noted that insomnia rates have increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She added that the following groups are at increased risk of insomnia:

  • Women suffer from chronic insomnia almost twice as often as men. “In women, we see high rates of insomnia around midlife, not necessarily related to menopause, but sleep tends to be more disrupted during menopause,” she said.
  • young men experience higher rates of insomnia than in the past. “It used to be that older men had the highest rates, but there’s been a demographic shift,” Martin said.
  • Ethnic minorities and economically disadvantaged people who have experienced significant trauma in their lives are at increased risk.
  • Those with a genetic predisposition to insomnia may not sleep well when stressed. “Insomnia appears to be hereditary, but it’s been an emerging area for 10 years and needs more research,” Martin said.

Dr. Steven Feinsilver, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, said research shows that cognitive-behavioral treatment of insomnia (CBT-I), which helps identify and replace thoughts and behaviors that negatively affect sleep through habits that promote restful sleep, is more effective than medication for treating insomnia.

Martin accepted. She treats people with TCC-I in her practice.

“Medications are considered something you add if a person hasn’t improved enough after trying CBT-I,” she said. “My clinical experience is that we can use CBT-I to help people sleep better…and use medication if they’re not sleeping as well as they want…but we don’t have a drugs that can be used for indefinite periods of time One of the challenges with drugs is that we don’t have a plan to stop using them.

To start developing good sleep hygiene on your own, Feinsilver suggests the following:

Choose a wake-up time and follow it seven days a week, using an alarm no matter how much you sleep. “Wake up time is what determines the circadian rhythm (biological clock) and cannot be easily changed from day to day. That’s why people suffer from jet lag,” Feinsilver said.

After waking up, get in the light as soon as possible. “Natural light is better if the sun is up. Getting out and walking is fine, if it’s convenient. Light is important in setting the circadian clock,” Feinsilver said.

Several hours before you go to bed, make a list of what you need to do the next day and set it aside.

“The idea is that when you wake up during the night, you can feel like you don’t have to worry about those things; they are written,” Feinsilver explained.

Relax an hour before bed, but without your phone or other personal electronics.

“Read if you want, but only if it’s for fun, nothing that requires concentration for work, studies. It shouldn’t be in bed; the beds are for sleeping (with one exception),” Feinsilver said.

Throughout her sleep journey, Aniston sought help from her doctor and turned to meditation, stretching, yoga, hot baths and hot water and lemon to help her sleep. .

She also learned to stop using screens before bed.

“[Just] try to turn off the world because you can read something that makes your body restless and nervous, so try to do the best things you can that are nurturing and comforting and soothing,” she said.

To help others learn about and cope with insomnia, Aniston has partnered with the Seize the Night & Day program, which includes community support and resources for people with sleep disorders.

She said the partnership is one she is grateful for.

“[I] obviously suffering from [insomnia] and i know so many people in my own life with insomnia or lack of sleep that it felt like something equal to everything in my life trying to share information and help people live a better experience in their day and allow their lives and bodies to thrive,” Aniston said.

The program’s website provides news on the science of sleep, tips for managing sleep issues, a preview of a sleep documentary and more from spokespersons like Aniston.

“The website is so helpful and it drives the conversation forward,” Aniston said. “And you can know that there is a solution and an answer to this frustrating and unfortunate thing. You don’t need to suffer.

Jennifer Aniston on Living with Insomnia and Sleep Hacks That Help

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