Devin Burke, your coaching guide to a peaceful night’s rest and Sleep Science Academy founder, speaks specifically about insomnia and how you can deal with it.
Let’s start with a definition of insomnia.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s definition of insomnia: The repeated difficulty with sleep initiation, duration, consolidation, or quality that occurs despite adequate time and opportunity for sleep and results in some form of daytime impairment.
That is a mouthful, so let me paraphrase: Insomnia is the inability to generate sleep despite allowing oneself the adequate opportunity to do so, affecting your daytime performance.
You Are Not Alone
Approximately one in nine people meet the clinical criteria for insomnia, translating to more than 40 million individuals in the US. And since the coronavirus, I believe this number has skyrocketed. I don’t know the current statistics, but because of my work, I know that more people than ever are experiencing insomnia.
Stress and anxiety are often the most significant root causes of insomnia. And because of the coronavirus and everything happening in the world, people are experiencing a lot more stress and anxiety.
Insomnia is twice as common in women, which is interesting, and I don’t know why that is. It may be related to pre-, post, and menopausal insomnia. It also could be because, generally, women are more in touch with their emotions and more sensitive to stress than men, and they may be more open to sharing when they are experiencing stress.
I am not sure why this is true; these are my ideas on the subject.
Different Types of Insomnia
There are two different types of insomnia. The first is onset insomnia, which is difficulty initiating sleep. Trouble falling asleep indicates the onset insomnia. Trouble staying asleep is maintenance insomnia.
In some cases, you may have both types, or you might have onset that becomes maintenance or maintenance that becomes onset. Flipping back and forth between these two types of insomnia is very common.
Insomnia has three subcategories: transient, acute, and chronic insomnia. Transient insomnia lasts a few days or weeks and can arise from stress, concerns over a job interview, worrying about a presentation, an upcoming wedding, sickness, or jet lag.
This form of insomnia is common as most people experience transient insomnia at some point in their life. Again, this lasts a couple of days, up to a week, and if you don’t properly understand how to solve this issue, you get stuck in a sort of paradox that we will discuss soon.
Lacking a solution, transient insomnia can become acute, short-term insomnia lasting several weeks. Eventually, acute insomnia can morph into chronic insomnia, which is trouble initiating or staying asleep at least three times a week for longer than three months and impacting your daytime waking hours.
Chronic insomnia is widespread and one of those things that I believe many people don’t know they have. It is also one of those subjects that when you search the Internet, you may find there is no cure for chronic insomnia, and this burden will be with you for the rest of your life.
Nothing could be further from the truth, but unfortunately, there are not a lot of good solutions available for people experiencing chronic insomnia. Sleeping pills, requiring a doctor’s prescription, are the most common solution.
There is a time and place for sleeping pills. They are for short-term use, but unfortunately, people end up using them long-term, and they can become addictive, dangerous, and habit-forming. They can become a slippery slope.
When you are trying to understand how to overcome and cure your chronic insomnia, it is essential to know how you got there.
I find the most common culprit is “learned insomnia,” which can start from a stressful event like a wedding, illness, or loss of a job or loved one, resulting in heightened stress and anxiety. Then, due to the body’s hyper-arousal state, the sympathetic nervous system initiates the fight-or-flight response, causing you to be unable to sleep.
Trapped in a Paradox
People get stuck trying to fix or solve insomnia, which can happen to anyone. You have a few nights of insufficient sleep, translating into a couple of weeks of poor sleep.
You go to the doctor for a prescription for Ambien or other popular drugs. You try them, and they work a bit, but they sedate you, not giving you quality sleep. Then, they eventually stop working, or you rely on them, creating a psychological attachment to needing something to sleep, which is invalid.
Sleep is a natural biological process that happens when we allow it, just like our heartbeats and lungs inhale and exhale; we don’t need to think about it.
And this is where we get stuck in that paradox of trying to force or control sleep.
Paradoxically, the harder you try to force, control, or fix sleep, the worse it gets; it becomes stressful, and that stress and anxiety attach themselves to your sleep. Fortunately or not, sleep and stress are bidirectionally linked, meaning the less you sleep, the more stressed your body is and the less you sleep.
This situation can continue until you get the proper support and tools to escape the paradox.
But stress and anxiety are the most common culprits, along with poor sleep hygiene – bad habits.
Getting Out of Your Way
Doing things that can get in the way of good quality sleep, like inconsistent sleep schedules, eating too close to bedtime, or drinking a lot of caffeine too late in the day, can trigger insomnia.
In most cases, the people our coaches help and support and that I speak to at Sleep Science Academy are experiencing extreme stress, have excessive stress in their bodies, and are in a stressful state.
The Stress Switch
We have two nervous systems: rest and digest (sympathetic) and fight-or-flight (parasympathetic). What can happen is that what I call people’s stress switch gets left in the on position, causing the body to dump cortisol, which causes a racing mind, creating a hyper- aroused state, a beating heart, or a feeling of anxiety.
It is common for people experiencing any form of insomnia to have these physical sensations of anxiety or dread. One of the main things we must do to restore natural sleep is help the body get into a relaxed state while we deal with all of the mental stuff keeping us stuck in that paradox.
To put this more clearly, people in the sleep paradox are stuck because they are trying to figure it out. They are attempting to force, control, or fix sleep, which keeps the body in a hyper-aroused, stressed state, leading to poor sleep, a more stressed body, and on and on it goes.
Exiting the Paradox
First and foremost, you must understand the thoughts and beliefs creating stress about sleep, what will happen if you don’t fix or solve it, and what it makes in your life.
There are psychological attachments that result from being unable to sleep well for several months. It is essential to deal with these attachments before you start to retrain the physiology to relax and restore natural sleep. At Sleep Science Academy, teaching these skills is what we do.
Insomnia is an insidious condition afflicting millions that can be difficult to live with and even harder to eliminate. The ongoing sleeplessness causes legions of problems from health to daily life that can make your days and nights miserable.
Conquering this beast is not usually a solo mission. You must do personal work to recognize your insomnia’s sources and begin dealing with them. The work takes time, focus, commitment, and, above all, consistency.
Sleep Science Academy’s highly successful, science-based program of Dynamic Sleep Recalibration (DSR) delivers precisely the support you will need for a successful battle with insomnia.
The Sleep Science Academy Difference means each client works with their certified holistic health/sleep coach who creates a custom treatment plan fitting their situation and needs and shepherds them through the process to a lifetime of peaceful nights and pleasant days.
The program’s 97% success rate and the Sleep Science Academy 100% cash-back guarantee means the only thing you risk are sleepless nights and brain fog days.
Contact us today and schedule your complimentary sleep consultation with one of our certified sleep coaches to begin down the path of restorative sleep and a better quality of life.