Sleep Solutions: Helping 'GMA' Correspondents Get Some Rest

Tired "GMA" correspondents tried new products that promise to aid in sleep.

ByABC News via logo
August 18, 2009, 1:01 PM

Aug. 21, 2009— -- Viewers know Bianna Golodryga, John Berman and Andrea Canning as intrepid "Good Morning America" correspondents.

And while this terrific trio can take on breaking news stories of all shapes and sizes, there's one thing they can't seem to conquer: a good night's sleep!

"Four to four-and-a-half hours of sleep is usually what I get," Golodryga said.

Berman said, "I always feel tired when I wake up."

"I can be a walking zombie," Canning concurred.

Our reporters are hardly alone. More than 70 million Americans suffer from some form of sleep-related difficulty.

Experts recommend that people sleep at least seven to nine hours per night, but more than a third of Americans ages 20 to 64 sleep fewer than six hours a night -- a 10 percent increase in the past 20 years.

"GMA" decided to use our crew as a test case for three new forms of technology, aimed at helping people get better, longer, deeper sleep. The correspondents each tested their items for two weeks, in some cases taking the tools with them on assignment or on vacation.

To be clear, this was not conducted as a scientific experiment, but our subjects were serious about searching for new approaches to their ongoing quests for sleep.

Sleep experts emphasize that there is no magic bullet that can be applied to all people when it comes to sleep issues. Each person's situation is unique, and the three products we tested sought to individually address sleep problems and to custom-design a means for each reporter to address his or her own sleep-related issues.

First up was Berman, the father of adorable twin two-year-old boys. His sleep issue? Feeling un-rested when he wakes.

"[My wife and I] wake up when the boys wake up," he said. "You want to sleep more no matter when they get up!"

We gave Berman the Sleeptracker watch to try, a kind of sleep watch.

The average adult experiences four to five sleep cycles during an eight-hour period -- periods of both deep or "REM" sleep and not-so-deep sleep.

The Sleeptracker monitors those cycles and uses an alarm to gently wake the user during an almost-awake period of sleep -- when the wearer is most alert. The intended result is that the Sleep Tracker wearer wakes up refreshed, not groggy.

But during the two weeks in which he wore the watch, it was the twins, not the watch, that woke John up most mornings.

"They invariably wake up before the alarm goes off," he said.

When Berman adjusted the Sleeptracker, expanding what the Sleeptracker designers call the "sleep window," so that the watch's alarm would go off before the twins rose, he found the watch wanted him to wake as early as 4:30 a.m. in order to catch him between deep sleep cycles.

"The Sleeptracker provides helpful data," Berman concluded, "but may not be best suited for parents of 2-year-old twins!"