The Centers for Disease Control call insufficient sleep a public health epidemic. Getting a full night's sleep is the holy grail of motherhood, two local women say.
Kendra McGee and Christine Feldmann may be total strangers but they share a common ailment.
“I can't turn my brain off,” says Feldman.
“I'm just not sleeping,” says McGee.
These women suffer from a phenomenon that is informally called "Momsomnia".
It describes a situation where already exhausted mothers can't sleep because of anxiety and a never-ending "to do" list.
Feldmann is a 36-year-old working mother of 3-year-old twins. She rarely gets a full night's sleep.
“I might fall asleep but then I'll wake up and start thinking,” she says. “What do I have to do tomorrow and what happens if one of them is sick and then the whole cycle starts all over again.”
Forty million people in the United States suffer from sleep disorders. Women are twice as likely as men to have trouble sleeping.
Long-term effects of sleep deprivation include increased anxiety, panic attacks, depression and mood instability.
Marketing consultant and mother of three McGee says, on average, she gets less than five hours of sleep a night.
“My sleep is frustrating because even when I want to rest, even when I feel that my body needs me to rest, I can't rest,” McGee said. “It's the most frustrating part of my entire day.”
The National Sleep Foundation suggests that most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
Doctor Suzanne Griffin says changes in women's hormone levels after giving birth and during menopause are the prime triggers for insomnia.
“Your concentration, your focus, your efficiency, your memory and your calculating ability are all going to be impaired by not getting enough sleep,” Griffin said.
Doctors advise mothers who have trouble sleeping, on average, on two nights a week to get help. Insomnia can become a learned behavior when a person’s brain associates being in bed with always having trouble falling asleep.