The Three Causes of Chronic Insomnia and How to FIX Them

Hey, everyone, it is Devin Burke, your coaching guide to a peaceful night’s rest. And in this episode, we’re going to be talking about the three causes of chronic insomnia and how to fix them to improve your sleep.

First and foremost, how does insomnia start and what are causes of chronic insomnia? Usually, there’s an event. Now, an event can be a loss of a loved one. It could be moving. It could be stressful relationship. It could be excitement about a business opportunity. It could be traveling for jet lag. It could be excitement about an upcoming wedding. It could be having a baby. It could be menopause. There’s so many things that it could be, but usually there’s an event. It could be a panic deck in the middle of the night. It could be a doctor giving you some bad news or potential bad news. There is an event, and then there’s what we do after the event.

So transient insomnia is normal. People have transient insomnia all the time, and that’s temporary. So an event happens, somebody can’t sleep. The challenge is is what we do after that event. It’s usually what we do after the event is we try to fix it. And what can happen is we become obsessed with fixing it, and we use band-aid solutions like sleeping pills or supplements or sleep hygiene. And when those things don’t work, it reinforces that false belief that were broken and it continues to become this paradox of trying to force fixed controlled sleep, which then ends up becoming a chronic issue.

The second thing that usually creates chronic insomnia is actually poor sleep hygiene. In some cases, people are overly hygienic and that they’re following all the rules, and that’s actually creating this pressure and this expectation around sleep, which is actually keeping them from sleep. And on the other side of that is actually people that are doing all the wrong things. They’re eating late at night, they’re not taking care of their health. They’re doing things that are literally disrupting their circadian rhythm and sleep pressure system. But it’s really, what’s good for your sleep, is good for your health. And what’s good for your health is also good for your sleep. And so, practicing good sleep hygiene is important, but for a lot of people that have chronic insomnia that get stuck in this paradox, sleep hygiene can actually be the thing that’s keeping you in the paradox. So this can be a bit tricky, but it can be a cause of chronic insomnias, is people just aren’t prioritizing sleep, they’re not doing the right things, which then becomes, again, this chronic issue.

So number two is a little bit tricky because for some people it’s actually what’s keeping them from solving the problem. And then for other people, it’s what started the problem and also is a big part of the solution.

The third reason is actually medical conditions. So there are many, many medical conditions that can be the root of insomnia, some of which are multiple sclerosis. There’s Alzheimer’s. There’s several different medical conditions. Now, in most cases, people that suffer from chronic insomnia don’t have any physically wrong things going on that are creating the insomnia. And there’s always this looming fear of, oh my God, what if something is physically wrong with me? And nine times out of 10, there’s not anything physically wrong with you, it’s just you’re stuck in this paradox. Your mind is then getting anxious about sleep, which is creating this anticipatory anxiety, which is releasing the cortisol in the adrenaline, which is then keeping you up, and that becomes a pattern in the body. But there are some people that do literally have medical conditions that physically are getting in the way of them sleeping, whether that’s a diabetic that’s waking up in the middle of the night because their insulin is dropping or is spiking, whether that’s someone that has a neurological disease or somebody that maybe has a brain injury or there’s a lot of medical reasons why somebody has insomnia. But for most people, it’s actually mostly in their head, which then becomes a pattern in the body.

So what are the true causes of chronic insomnia and how do we solve them? Chronic insomnia is, really, you need to address the root cause. And like I said, in most cases, most of it is in the mind. It’s the anticipatory anxiety, it’s all the expectations, all the stories about what will happen if you don’t sleep, all the false belief around, I’ve tried everything and nothing has helped me. It’s all that mind stuff that then gets in the way of the body doing what it’s designed to do, which is sleep. So addressing the root cause really means looking at how all areas of your life are impacting your sleep, including your thoughts and beliefs.

Many people to totally underestimate the power of their thoughts and beliefs. And I always like to say to clients, everything around you that you currently see was once a thought in someone’s mind. So your desk, your computer, anything in your physical environment was once just a thought. Thoughts are things and they’re powerful. And when we don’t understand them or we don’t get the proper support to shift them and really see how they’re keeping us stuck, it can be a massive, massive barrier for really solving chronic insomnia. So addressing the root cause means that looking at the physical as well as the mental barriers that are keeping you from sleep. And really, it’s so important not to treat insomnia as a symptom. If you treat insomnia as a symptom, it’s going to continue to be a problem. It might help you temporarily, but it’s going to continue to rear its ugly head again and again until you really address the root cause. And in most cases, it’s stress and anxiety that then becomes stress and anxiety about sleep.