Melissa Carey, cus­tomer re­la­tions; mom of a young adult and a 7-year-old, Whites­boro, NY

Working Mother - - Sleep -

The prob­lem: Years of jug­gling work and house­hold and par­ent­ing chores solo stretched Melissa too thin—and with­out her own night­time rou­tine. “One night I might go to bed at 11 p.m., and an­other at 1 a.m.,” she says. It left her slug­gish by 2 p.m.—and through the evenings af­ter work. The so­lu­tion: Melissa’s em­ployer, The Hartford, of­fers the Sleepio pro­gram. She logged into a weekly we­bi­nar for six weeks that took her through a se­ries of ques­tions about the qual­ity of her sleep and how she felt when she woke up. Lit­tle by lit­tle, Melissa, un­der the guid­ance of Sleepio’s sleep tracker and tips, be­gan tweak­ing her schedule un­til she ar­rived at the right one: Ev­ery night she went to bed by 11:30 and woke up no later than 7 a.m. Af­ter about four weeks, she was able to wake up with­out the alarm.

The re­sult: “I have energy, I feel younger, and I can do more with my fam­ily,” says Melissa, who sticks to the schedule two years later. Now when her work­day is over, she plays kick­ball, bikes or just walks the dog with her kids, in­stead of sit­ting on the sofa watch­ing TV. An­other bonus: All that out­door ac­tiv­ity has led to her los­ing 32 pounds since start­ing the pro­gram.

Her ad­vice: “A lot of us think we’re tired be­cause we do so much—and just ac­cept it as life,” says Melissa. “There were a few nights those first three weeks I’d have to get out of bed be­cause I wasn’t sleepy at 11 and then try again 20 or 30 min­utes later,” she says. “But once they were over, I was a hap­pier woman.” The ex­pert’s take: We all have a nat­u­ral cir­ca­dian rhythm, but it can get out of whack with er­ratic bedtimes, lead­ing to in­som­nia and day­time drowsi­ness, Dr. Con­sens ex­plains. A reg­u­lar sleep schedule—within an hour of the same bedtimes and wake-ups seven days a week—makes your body more ef­fi­cient at do­ing all its restora­tive func­tions; it’s why you wake up feel­ing re­freshed.

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