ENTERTAINMENT
11/18/2014 06:22 pm ET Updated Nov 20, 2014

Amy Poehler Struggles With Sleep Just Like The Rest Of Us

You'd think the juggling act of raising two young sons, producing, acting and sometimes directing the final season of "Parks and Recreation," hosting the 2013 and 2014 Golden Globes and maintaining her besties status with Seth Meyers and Tina Fey would be tiring enough. But actress Amy Poehler doesn't curl into bed at night and fall asleep immediately out of pure exhaustion.

In her recently released memoir Yes Please, Poehler hilariously chronicles major events in her life with wisdom and ease -- including her early Chicago improv days, kicking ass as a waitress, getting hired for "Saturday Night Live" at age 30, her marriage to comedian Will Arnett, hosting the Globes and giving birth hours before an "SNL" telecast.

But she also talks about an unexpected topic that is near and dear to our hearts: Sleep.

"The sleep deprivation after children is so real. I liken it to what it must feel like to walk on the moon and cry the whole time because you had heard that the moon was supposed to be great but in truth it totally sucks," she wrote.

Poehler started working on NBC's "Parks and Recreation" when her first child, Archie, was just 3 months old, and she recalls falling asleep multiple times at work -- while standing up and with her eyes opened.

"I slept wherever I could. Twenty minutes at lunch. During production meetings. In my car. I remember being filled with rage when childless people would talk about brunch," she wrote.

She had her second son, Abel, two years later and said she "aged a hundred years in his first year."

According to Poehler, sleep can completely alter the way we feel about ourselves and even about our day-to-day lives. She elaborated: "One good night's sleep can help you realize that you shouldn't break up with someone, or you are being too hard on your friend, or you actually will win the race or the game or get the job. Sleep helps you win at life. "

And she's right. Research has stated that when we don't get enough sleep, we have an increased risk of obesity and heart problems, in addition to lower likelihood of kicking a cold, increased appetite and higher emotional reactivity throughout the day. And yet, almost half of Americans say they don't get enough sleep.

And airplanes don't count. Poehler writes that she sleeps well in places that aren't her bed, like airplanes (the reason she looks forward to travel so much), but says it wasn't until she became a mother that she was forced to truly confront her lifelong struggle with sleep.

Three years ago, at the age of 40, she took the plunge and went to a sleep center in Beverly Hills to see if she could get help.

When the technician asked her about her troubles, she said she snored sometimes. But what she should have said was: "Throughout my life I have been told I snore so loudly that it sounds like I am dying or choking. I come from a family of snorers and we all used to record each other to show each other the damning evidence. I am convinced my body is trying to gently strangle me to death."

After a night of being hooked up to machines and attempting to sleep, Poehler met with the doctor who told her she was only getting a few minutes of REM sleep at a time and that she has sleep apnea -- a sleep disorder in which the sleeper stops breathing briefly, sometimes hundreds of times in a single night. Additionally, when asked how many times she thought she woke up during the night, Poehler guessed four to five times, but the doctor revealed that her it was more like 20 to 30 times a night.

Instead of sending her to some glorious Hawaiian sleep rehab center like she secretly hoped for, she was sent home with a CPAP machine to wear when she sleeps. Poehler simply likens it to a plate of vegetables. "You know it's good for you but most of the time you don't feel like it," she wrote.

CPAP treatment, however, is the gold standard in sleep apnea care, and left untreated, sleep apnea has been tied to increased risk of cancer, stroke, high blood pressure and daytime fatigue. There have also been studies linking it to depression.

Poehler doesn't claim to be perfect. Sleep is something she continues to struggle with. She used the machine religiously for a while but now admits to storing it in the closet. "I know I should use it. I'm working on it. I'm a bad sleeper; I told you," she wrote. For now, she continues to try breathing strips and mouth guards and special pillows.

"I want to sleep. I do. I want to go gentle into that good night, so help me God," she pleaded.

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