You may know actor Debi Mazar from her work in the movie Goodfellas, and from her role as Shauna on the HBO hit TV show, Entourage. But I know Debi as a busy mom who struggles with insomnia. I caught up with her a few days ago to find out how she’s coped with those sleepless nights.
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Dr. Val: When did insomnia first become a problem for you?
Mazar: Insomnia is surprisingly common. It affects 60 million Americans: 40% of women and 30% of men. My struggle with insomnia began in my mid to late 20’s when my professional and love life went into full swing. I ate well and exercised, but started having trouble falling asleep every night. I went to see a doctor because I didn’t realize that there were many things that I could do about it on my own.
Dr. Val: What are some of the non-medical treatments that worked for you?
Mazar: Cutting back on caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, and exercising only early in the day, having a healthy sex life, and getting myself on a sleeping schedule. I also tried to reduce stress levels in my life by not going to bed angry, by unplugging from TV and the Internet, and I made my bedroom a very cozy, dark environment that would be condusive to sleep. When you’re a mom, sleeping pills aren’t a good option because you might have to get up in the middle of the night. I have a full list of insomnia tips at bedsidebriefings.com
Dr. Val: I bet that insomnia is a common problem in Hollywood. Has that been your experience?
Mazar: I don’t consider myself to be part of “Hollywood” I’m just an average mom who worries about the world we live in and our economy. The news can cause a lot of anxiety – regardless of what you do for a living. It keeps us all awake at night. Of course, chronic insomnia can increase our risk of depression, weight gain, diabetes and hypertension.
Dr. Val: What is the most important thing for Americans to know about sleep?
Mazar: Sleep is the time when your body repairs itself, so sleep is essential for good health. Without it, we all fall apart.