These days, turn on ABC and there’s a good chance you’ll see Diane Macedo, as an anchor on “ABC News Live,” the network’s digital channel, or as a correspondent on “Good Morning America,” “World News Tonight” or “Nightline.” It’s a heady time for the Mineola native. “My parents still live in the same house,” she says. “My extended family — those not in Portugal anyway — are all in the area.”
Early on, Macedo planned to be a news writer, and after graduating from Boston College she wrote news segments at Fox News Radio, but when she started recording her segments, her boss put Macedo on the air. A weekly “American Idol” recap — back when it was “the biggest show on the planet” — landed her on television, which led to jobs at Fox News Business, CBS New York and, finally, ABC.
Along the way, she married and became the mother of a 3-year-old son and a 4-month-old daughter. But because of the nature of the news business, defined now by an unrelenting 24-hour news cycle, her personal life was affected by her career when she developed a sleeping disorder so severe Macedo believed she had lost her ability to sleep. Unable to get help from doctors, she researched the topic herself.
The result is “The Sleep Fix” (William Morrow, $27.99), a comprehensive survey of sleeping disorders and what can be done to combat them. Macedo spoke to Newsday about her book, an indispensable resource for anyone who has suffered from problems related to sleep.
Diane Macedo with her family the day she graduated from Mineola High School. Credit: Diane Macedo
Did you have a history of sleep disorders?
For years, I struggled to fall asleep and stay asleep. I developed a narrative in my head that I always had sleep problems. That actually wasn’t true. I required less sleep than my contemporaries. Even as a baby I didn’t nap during the day and I didn’t sleep as many hours at night as you’d expect, yet I was healthy with a good disposition. In kindergarten, when everyone was napping, I was staring at the ceiling waiting for nap time to end. In college, I was a night owl who didn’t need as much sleep as everyone else.
When did your problems begin?
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With my odd work schedule, I would go to bed early and try to sleep before getting up at the crack of dawn, but my body was not primed for sleep at that time. So, I couldn’t fall asleep; then I’d wake up at 3 am and my body didn’t want to wake up until 9 am Taking naps made things worse.
I started experiencing acid reflux and dry eyes. I never connected those issues to my sleep, but sleep deprivation can cause acid reflux. I kept moving dinnertime earlier, but many people have trouble sleeping if they are hungry. … Eating earlier made it harder to sleep and my lack of sleep caused the acid reflux. It was a terrible cycle. Things snowballed when my 3 am wake-up time became 1:30 am at CBS New York. Then I moved to ABC overnight; then I did overnight and “Good Morning America.”
What was your low point?
When besides ABC overnight and GMA, I started doing additional shoots for GMA and Nightline. I threw my body clock off. I would go to bed and try to force myself to sleep, but it was making my problem worse. I had two issues: insomnia and a circadian rhythm disorder connected to shift work.
What did you do?
I went to my boss and realized no one knew when I was sleeping. People would call with assignments, and I would say yes. We mapped out from 9 am to 3 pm for my sleeping. That was the turning point, and with the research I did I developed tools to deal with my sleeping problems.
Like constructive worry.
Divide a page down the center. On the left side, write anything on your mind. On the right side, write the next step to resolving that issue. When you write down your worries, you think about solutions, not problems, which many people do in the insomnia cycle. After two weeks of doing this every day, I didn’t need to do it anymore.
Why were doctors unable to help?
The average four-year medical school spends two hours on sleep, so many primary-care physicians are not trained.
“The Sleep Fix” is the new book by Mineola native Diane Macedo dealing with her sleep disorders. Credit: William Morrow
How do you sleep today?
One day my husband blurted out, “I can’t believe it. Your sleep issues are just not a thing anymore!” I fixed my problem not only for now but going forward. Sleep is not something that if you try harder, you do better; it’s often the opposite. I wrote the book that I wish existed when I was struggling. My hope is that other people won’t have to struggle the way I did because I wrote the book.
By Paul Alexander
Special to Newsday