Medically reviewed by
Dacelin St Martin, MD
Triple board-certified in Sleep Medicine,
Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics.
It can be tempting to think that famous people live perfect lives. With their adoring fans and few mortal worries, such as paying the mortgage on time, one would think resting would be easy.
Meanwhile, the real difference between stars and regular folks is a longer list of social media followers and a more substantial bank account, as sleep disorders enter stage left as the great equalizers.
Difficulty falling asleep, maintaining sleep, and poor sleep quality is reported by about 30 percent of the world’s adult population.
And when it comes to celebrities with their inconsistent and intense work and travel schedules, it really shouldn’t come as a big surprise that not all famous people get the angelic sleep we think they might.
Here’s a look at some celebrities who have talked about their various sleep disorders and how they have affected them.
Fame can come with a steep price tag. The multi-talented singer/songwriter has stated in interviews that she has a tough time “turning her brain off” when it comes to sleep and, at times, doesn’t sleep for three days. Although she credits this constant wakefulness with helping her creativity, she does say it becomes exhausting.
This maintenance insomnia sufferer and TV and film star has managed her sleep problems with a sleep hygiene regimen, which includes staying away from mental stimulation and doing sleep meditation before bed. People with maintenance insomnia can usually fall asleep but cannot stay asleep for long.
Talking about her maintenance insomnia openly throughout her career, she described it as waking up followed by having conversations in the head that “just won’t shut up.” Aniston credited staying away from all electronics before bedtime as the most significant help.
In interviews, the pop star has stated that she gets only about 3-4 hours of sleep per night, finding it “hard to switch off.” She has also admitted to binge-watching TV shows and documentaries all night, which is the most likely source of her short sleep durations.[5,6]
Michael Jackson notoriously struggled with insomnia. After decades of suffering from the disorder, the situation became so dire that Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, would inject him with the surgical anesthetic propofol, aka “milk of amnesia,” for sleep. Tragically, it was an overdose of this medication, combined with sedatives, that took his life.[7,8]
Stemming from her real-life experiences as a teenager in a boarding school for troubled teens, the socialite and media star suffers from recurring nightmares that make her fear going to sleep. Her somniphobia has spurred her to work with foundations that help end the cycle of abuse in the troubled teen industry.[9,10]
The novelist and author of “Fight Club” based his most famous work on his own experiences with insomnia. The protagonist sums it up perfectly in the novel that “when you have insomnia, you’re never really asleep, and you’re never really awake.” Palahniuk has admitted to using sleeping pills more often than he’d like to admit.[11,12]
Are We That Different?
Like many of us, famous people from all backgrounds can experience sleep disorders. Some stem from traumatic events, while others are due to lifestyle factors. Some of these celebrities learned to manage their sleep troubles; some sadly did not fare so well, while others used their experiences as a creative outlet.
The critical takeaway remains the same: sleep is vital, and the more attention we pay to set the stage for a great night’s rest, the better our health will be – no matter who you are.
- Roth T. (2007). Insomnia: definition, prevalence, etiology, and consequences. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 3(5 Suppl), S7–S10.
- Reed, M. (2019, January 4). https://www.healthcentral.com/slideshow/celebrities-with-insomnia . The 10 Most Famous Celebrities With Insomnia. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from https://www.healthcentral.com/slideshow/celebrities-with-insomnia
- Thistleton, K., & Radha. (n.d.). Why sleep can be a real nightmare. BBC. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/56RbVYvXqFHJCtPFVjWzwdw/why-sleep-can-be-a-real-nightmare
- Lee, K., Patino, E., Asp, K., Upham, B., Lee, K., Lawler, M., & Capetta, A. (2018, May 7). Celebrities who struggle with sleep and insomnia. EverydayHealth.com. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from https://www.everydayhealth.com/insomnia/celebrities-who-struggle-with-sleep/
- Dailymail.com, V. S. F. (2017, November 28). Rihanna gets less than four hours of sleep a night. Daily Mail Online. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-5126715/Rihanna-gets-FOUR-HOURS-sleep-night.html
- Wang, E. (2017, November 27). Rihanna says she only sleeps 4 hours a night and we’re honestly a little concerned. SELF. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from https://www.self.com/story/rihanna-says-she-only-sleeps-4-hours-a-night
- Maria C. Montoya, T. T.-P. (2009, September 4). Insomnia: Lessons learned from the death of Michael Jackson. NOLA.com. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from https://www.nola.com/entertainment_life/health_fitness/article_6ebd6a32-d30f-5905-96e0-5ef8e15fbd9d.html
- Stephenson-Laws, J. (2018, March 13). When insomnia turns deadly! Proactive Health Labs. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from https://phlabs.com/when-insomnia-turns-deadly
- Ledbetter, C. (2021, July 9). Paris Hilton says her nightmares from alleged boarding school abuse are gone. HuffPost. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/paris-hilton-nightmares-gone-abuse_n_60d9eec2e4b0dcd799a9d848#:~:text=%E2%80%9CI%20used%20to%20have%20very,’t%20have%20nightmares%20anymore.%E2%80%9D
- F, K. (2022, February 7). Why Paris Hilton says she’s scared to go to bed at night. NickiSwift.com. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from https://www.nickiswift.com/246838/why-paris-hilton-says-shes-scared-to-go-to-bed-at-night/
- Guardian News and Media. (2014, April 18). Insomnia and me: Chuck Palahniuk. The Guardian. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/apr/19/chuck-palahniuk-struggles-insomnia
- Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, March 21). Chuck Palahniuk. Wikipedia. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Palahniuk