insomnia caused by another condition

When insomnia is caused by another condition

Sylvia had been living with insomnia ever since a particularly intense perimenopause. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) was a life changer.

But unfortunately for Sylvia, while HRT greatly reduced most of her menopausal symptoms, it did nothing to alleviate her insomnia.

Sylvia is not an exception.

Of the thousands of members who have come through the “doors” of our virtual sleep clinic, more than 40% (yes, we were surprised when we saw those stats too!) were experiencing insomnia caused by another condition:

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Tinnitus
  • Chronic pain
  • ADHD
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic illness

Living with any one of these conditions is tough enough… nobody should have to endure insomnia on top of it.

The lack of sleep can make the other condition and its symptoms worse… and seeing that one of those symptoms is insomnia, you can see how this becomes a vicious cycle.

 

Original Cause Vs Trigger Vs Perpetuating Factor

 

The Original Cause

Many of our members believed their insomnia was initially caused by their other condition. And this is true, in part.

 

The Trigger

The other condition continues to trigger your insomnia in that it will cause you to wake in the middle of the night or prevent you from falling asleep as you first go to bed.

 

The Perpetuating Factor

While the other condition is very often the original cause AND a trigger of your insomnia… over time, things change, without you really noticing. Your brain slowly learns a new pattern of sleep and wakefulness, repeated night after night. “If you’re awake and alert, it must be for a good reason,” it thinks. This pattern becomes entrenched. It becomes better and better at following this “new sleep program.” It’s not what you want… But that’s how the brain works.

Gradually:

  • Your sleep drive weakens: your ability to fall asleep swiftly and sleep through the night diminishes.
  • Maladaptive thoughts develop: these go on to affect your nights both physically and psychologically.
  • Sleep anxiety develops and starts affecting your night as well as your days (you start worrying about how you’ll deal with the day, thinking about what the night ahead has in store for you).
  • Hyperarousal rears its head, and your senses are amplified: the tiniest noise, temperature change, movement are felt 10X.
  • Your sleep becomes lighter… less and less restorative.

This is insomnia at play… and it becomes the perpetuating “hidden” factor.

The terrible thing is that after some time, often as little as a few months, this perpetuating factor has become so deeply ingrained that even when the other condition is treated… the insomnia remains.

The insomnia and the other condition become two distinct, separate conditions that exacerbate each other… and they both need to be addressed separately.

 

Light at the End of the Tunnel

The good news, though, as hundreds of our members will tell you, is that insomnia can be beaten. And the even better news is that often (though not always), improved sleep, better days, and better rest will all help reduce symptoms of the other condition.

Better sleep = Improved health = Better recovery

Beating deeply ingrained insomnia, especially when experiencing another condition continuing to trigger it, is not a quick and easy process. But following a sleep retraining program regularly and consistently over a few months can deeply change your sleep.

Our virtual program can help most people, however, there are some circumstances for which it would not be recommended and would not be effective. The 6-month plan offers the daily help and support, as well as the weekly access to sleep and insomnia specialists, you’ll need when experiencing another condition alongside ongoing insomnia.

But it’s not the only way… Books, DIY online CBT-i courses, or apps could also help.

If you want to see whether re:sleep is right for you, you can get in touch via the contact form on our site.

And of course if you have any questions or thoughts, please do share them with me in the comment section below!

Whichever way you decide to go, I do hope you’ll quickly rediscover the great benefits healthy sleep will bring to your nights and to your days.

14 Responses

  1. I’d like to learn more and see if the program will resolve waking in the night/early waking

    1. Hi Emma, that is one of the most common sleep problems. This is not something that will go away quickly, but habits over time need to be built up in order to re-train your brain not to do that – this is exactly what we do on the program. It might be helpful to check out our £1 2 week trial to see if the program feels comfortable and sustainable enough for you, so that you can reach this goal.

    1. I am sorry to hear this Mo. If you are in the first few weeks of grieving, sleep fluctuations are totally normal and you have nothing to worry about. In fact, the less you worry and alter things to try and fix your sleep, the more likely it is that when you move through this process your sleep will return to normal as well. If it has been longer than 3 months, it is more likely that it has become more engrained, and that’s when re:sleep can help if you are feeling up to it. I would make sure you look after you – there is plenty of time and we will be here when/if you need us.

    1. Hi Maria, It is common for partners to both suffer, whether they both have insomnia type symptoms or one has insomnia and the other is suffering with the interruptions at night. Either way, please don’t worry as sleep re-training can still work, and we have had people come onto our program as a partnership – and do really well!

  2. I have thought about buying your sleep program for a long time but I think my insomnia may be triggered by menopause, although I’ve had sleep problems for my whole adult life. I am desperate to find a solution because I don’t want to be up at 2am cutting up prescription sleeping pills because I either can’t fall asleep or wake up soon after falling asleep. Lack of sleep is ruining my life because I spend most days in a zombie like state with brain fog because I’m so tired 😪

    1. Hi Indu, it is true that insomnia can be triggered by various menopausal symptoms and changes, as it can be triggered by many different things in life. It’s also true that whilst we go through these changes, our expectations do need to change around what sleep will look like. However, this does not mean putting up with a chronic sleep disorder. There is a difference between waking up in the night due to night sweats/hormones etc and getting back to sleep fine, and not having your day affected so much, versus an engrained pattern whereby sometimes the night sweat etc, doesn’t even need to be present anymore and the sleep condition remains, or it takes you hours to get back to sleep and significantly impacting your day. All signs that the trigger is no longer the problem….the insomnia itself has gathered momentum and therefore it is the insomnia components that need to be addressed…..not the original menopausal symptoms.

    1. Hi Coleen, restless legs syndrome can be caused for several different reasons and it is important you speak to your GP to make sure these potential underlying causes are addressed. If this has happened and still there are symptoms (which can also be common), then the next best thing is to regulate your sleep by building on the quality and duration (what we do at re:sleep). This can help reduce the symptoms and make restless legs less likely to affect sleep.

  3. I am a 77 year-old woman. I can get to sleep ok but every night I wake up every two hours. It feels like I need to urinate so I go to the bathroom then come back and go to sleep again. Till 2 hours later. I do not have to work fortunately. My habits are regular and I don’t eat or drink in the evening – only water.

    1. Hi Frances, the first thing I would suggest here is going to speak to your GP. If there are no underlying causes or everything has been excluded (including sleep apnoea) as to what might be causing excessive night time urination, then embarking on a sleep re-training program at re:sleep will likely help reverse engineer the problem. What I mean by this is we can’t get rid of the urination, however sometimes when sleep strength is built up, should the urinating be more a behavioural pattern than have an underlying cause, it is likely it will at least improve the issue and your sleep quality itself is very likely to improve regardless.

  4. I’d like some more information please. I fall asleep no problem because I’m usually exhausted but wake up between 3-6 times a night to got to the toilet and sometimes can’t go back to sleep because I’m thinking about my alarm going off at 6.30 . I very rarely feel rested and have no energy to do other things.

    1. Hi Theresa, the first thing I would suggest here is going to speak to your GP. If there are no underlying causes or everything has been excluded (including sleep apnoea) as to what might be causing excessive night time urination, then embarking on a sleep re-training program at re:sleep will likely help reverse engineer the problem. What I mean by this is we can’t get rid of the urination, however sometimes when sleep strength is built up, should the urinating be more a behavioural pattern than have an underlying cause, it is likely it will at least improve the issue and your sleep quality itself is very likely to improve regardless.

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