Have you ever tried to sink a volleyball in the sea? No matter how many times you jam it down underwater it pops right back up. In this video I share one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned – you’ll never be able to cure insomnia if you try to drown it under water. That is because insomnia is a symptom, not a disease. It is merely a manifestation of our poor health, therefore we must look for the underlying cause. Once the root cause is addressed insomnia will be resolved, kind of like the ball would sink once it is pierced.
I’ve spent thousands of dollars on supplements in order to treat my sleep disorder and it took me way too long to realize that treating symptoms is futile. In fact, I am sure that many times I made my condition much worse with supplements. You read some promising article, you order the supplement and you wait full excitement – “This is going to be it! This will be my cure!” It seemed like no matter what I tried I was experiencing paradoxical reactions. This was insanely frustrating.
Once I started looking at my health holistically I started making progress. My next lesson is patience. It is taking unbelievably long to recover and I still see no end in sight but I persist and I learn. This is the only thing I can do.
The things that helped me most so far is to shift my focus from Western medicine to Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The latter treats everything based on energy patterns of inner organs. There are herbal formulas that address certain patterns, acupuncture, moxibustion and that’s it. No complicated hormones, neurotransmitters, vitamin deficiencies and so on. I am not saying I see no value in Western medicine but if you’re dealing with sub-clinical health issues like me (tests show nothing wrong with me) then working with organs and inner energies is your only hope.
By learning more about TCM I learned that most disorders manifest when our body becomes dis-balanced. This usually happens when stress and poor diet affects on of the organ systems, say for examples kidneys. We keep borrowing energy from kidneys and kidneys at the same time have to borrow energy from somewhere else, like your heart. At the same time your kidneys become too week to lend cooling energy to your liver which starts acting up and dampens your digestion. This causes a chain reaction with multiple symptoms, including insomnia.
So now what happens when we freak out and run for the sleep supplement section? We grab anything we can to deal with insomnia. We learn that we need to calm our brain and nervous system so we jump for all the calming herbs and minerals. We pour and pour water over fire but it keeps re-igniting because we’re not addressing the root cause, the underlying pattern. On top of it, we’re creating more imbalances in our brain where the body has to work overtime to balance everything out again. Sure, things like magnesium, certain amino acids, calming herbs may get you through the night but you’ll be back to square one in no time.
So my main advice here is too look for other clues in your health. What other symptoms are you experiencing besides insomnia? How’s your gut health? How’s your mood? Are you too hot at night, are you too cool? What are other sensations in your body? All these signs point to other dis-balances that could lead you towards addressing the root cause.
How long have you had insomnia? I’ve had for more than 30 years. Been on supplements, antidepressants and now sleeping pills. Go to alternative for, but have made little progress. I’ve had tons of tests, just never get the results im after.
5 years, Chris but it’s almost gone. What have your tests pointed to, anything?
I’ve had insomnia for over 30 years. I don’t know what it is like to feel normal or have energy or a clear head. I only get occasional glimpses. Tried supplements, drugs, therapy, accupuncture, massage, etc. Would love a real breakthrough. Any advice. I know an herbalist who’s wife is a Chinese doctor. Maybe she can tell me what is up
Hi Chris, do go see a TCM practitioner, at least they’ll help you figure out your insomnia pattern. There are other organs involved and you have to find the underlying cause, only then can you treat it. I’m sure some supplements gave you paradoxical reactions, some were helpful… all those can be clues as well.
May I ask what you sleep pattern is? I find it impossible to sleep before 2am and i often wake up at 6am. I lay there for a few hours because my cortisol is so high and eventually I drift back to sleep until 11-12 if I am lucky. I have tried many times to get to sleep earlier to no avail. It’s been going on for 5 years now
Marc, there’s something in your life that is taxing your adrenals. Do you have any idea as of any obvious things? It could also be gut issues, stealthy infections or heavy some sort of toxicity. Have you tried CBD oil to help calm that sympathetic dominant nervous system? It helped me a lot but I could only take it in AM and early afternoon. I have a post about this if you wish to learn more. Bottom line, you want to find what’s triggering your adrenals and treat that instead of “adrenal fatigue” itself.
I have been dealing with insomnia issue for over 30 years. Since I only sleep 4-5 hours, even with pills I also do not go to bed until around 12:30 – 1pm. Because I don’t like waking up in the middle of the night. I love when I can go back to sleep, usually a light dream state but it makes me little more refreshed. For years they put me me on antidepressants and then supplements, now resorting to temazapam for almost 2 years. Elevated cortisol has been an issue for me also at night. I take phosphatidyl serine (supplement) which reduces cortisol and also helps with activity of neurotransmitters. I have been told to take it around dinner and again before bed.
Have you tried time release or regular melatonin which is a hormone made from the pineal gland and decreases with age? Supplementing can help with sleep – try 3 mg to start — or 5HTP with B6 at night which helps with serotonin.
I’ve got some amino acids in a powerded form mix plus some typtophan which doesn’t really seem to do much. I’m relying on diazepam if I simply can’t sleep naturally. I seem to have hyper awareness around 10pm-2am. I always seem to wake up 4-5 hours and never can stay solidly asleep all night. I saw my neurologist today and she has done some blood work plus she is sending me for an MRI scan. I do have some melatonin but I didn’t particularly get on with the groggy feelings the next day. It’s great when I finally get to sleep but I hate that early morning anxiety/restlessness as my cortisol rises. It has made working near in impossible as most schedules are all based around the 9-5.
Yes. Next day drowsiness is a major issue for me. I have worked from home for the last 12 years, and am basically semi-retired now. People do not understand the severe struggle just to get through the day. Do you use supplements during the day to give you energy? Do you get regular exercise? Have you have any accidents or do experience anxiety or depression, or have a stressful job?
I’m pretty active during the day. I used to work as a self employed music teacher so I was able to choose my hours. I’m terribly worried about the Scan and if they find something awful on the pineal gland. Have you had this checked yourself? I should really cut out caffeine completely to see if it makes a difference. I do have anxiety and depression but I wonder if it’s caused by the insomnia as when I do get a good sleep I’m generally quite upbeat
My assumption is that my pineal gland is calcified. There are supplements to reduce this, I don’t know if they work. Had a basic brain MRI in 2006, a long time ago, that was normal. I know I have HPA axis dysfunction, but can’t seem to get appropriate help form endocrinologists or help even from an alternative doc I have seen for years. Last neurologist I went to recommend books, great therapy that I actually Paid for. I felt like saying are you kidding me? I’ve even tried to find the best insomnia expert in USA, but there doesn’t seem to be one. I have neck and back issues also, so I go from one problem to the next trying to solve them — it is alot of work no one gets. My neck may be part of my problem. I do have anxiety and depression. I believe anxiety is at the root of my issues and depression from lack of sleep. I was working in an ad agency with massive deadlines for 18 years— that did me in, wish I had left instead of trying to man up and hurt my body and brain.
I watch a lof of podcasts and I have a collection of books on insomnia, nothing has really helped. I do have a sound machine which I absolutely need and I find reading makes me tired before bed. You’re supposed to take a shower before sleep, which is one thing I can’t get myself to do when tired. I’ve been pretty active also, walking and swimming almost daily and exercising. I’m curious about the result of your scan also. Did you have a major stresser or major life altering experience that may have precipitated your insomnia?
I think I should cut out alcohol to see if it makes a difference. I only have 1 cup of coffee a day, so that is staying
Chris…. “I think I should cut out alcohol to see if it makes a difference. I only have 1 cup of coffee a day, so that is staying.” Of course, you should! 🙂 These are main triggers of your HPA axis dysfunction. This is the low hanging fruit, you should go for it ASA.
hi Chris….. try a foot bath with dead sea minerals for 10min before bedtime…anyone can do that and it works well