Insomnia: A Warning Sign

Insomnia: A Warning Sign
Sergio De Dios González

Written and verified by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 28 July, 2022

Insomnia is the inability and struggle to sleep. Tossing and turning in bed like a convicted prisoner, unable to sleep, is one of the most unpleasant experiences we could have. Unfortunately, more and more these days, those who sleep soundly are few and far between.

In this day and age, you can find several alternatives to help combat insomniaThey range from the classic glass of warm milk to sophisticated sleeping pills produced by the pharmaceutical industry.

Nevertheless, this issue should not be taken lightly. Although insomnia is relatively common, it does not mean that it is “normal.” And even though at first it may not mean there is a serious problem, it can become a considerable struggle and difficulty. 

Insomnia is a symptom, not a sickness 

Essentially, insomnia is a symptom of all of the mental and emotional illnesses that we might suffer. However, insomnia alone doesn’t indicate a serious problem, or at least one that requires treatment. 

Let’s break it down. Insomnia is a symptom. This means that alone it is not a problem. However, it also means that it is followed by another problem that may be more serious. 

night sky out window insomnia
Those with insomnia have difficulty reaching the state of relaxation necessary for deep sleep. This difficulty can be related to various factors ranging from physical problems to serious mental illnesses.

This struggle to sleep may at times simply be an after-effect of what or when dinner was eaten. If you eat very late, or if you eat foods that are difficult to digest, it is likely that your body will resist entering a state of deep sleep in that condition. Avoid foods that will cause serious indigestion before going to bed.

This is an example in which insomnia can be incidental, and occurring only under certain conditions. In these cases, there is no need to worry.

On the other hand, when the struggle to sleep becomes a more chronic and there is no clear explanation for it, it should be taken seriously. In these cases, we are no longer talking about one symptom, but rather the tip of the iceberg of a problem that is much more complex.

Analyzing insomnia 

First we must clarify that the word insomnia can be applied to several situations: 

  • When a person cannot sleep and spends practically the whole night completely awake.
  • When a person sleeps, but wakes up suddenly and cannot go back to sleep even though they feel extremely tired.
  • When a person sleeps intermittently. In other words, they can get to sleep, but it doesn’t last long. They wake up, then struggle to go back to sleep, in a miserably repetitive cycle.

What is common with all of these situations is a certain resistance to sleep, in the strict sense of the term. From the psychoanalytical point of view, it could be said that it has to do with a fear of sleeping or dreaming.

girl sitting awake in bed insomnia

When we dream, a great amount of the censorship in our brains that reason and logic impose disappears. In dreams, “illogical” things can happen. However, subject to interpretation, dreams can reveal great hidden truths within human beings.

Upon dreaming, we lose control of our mind and realities can emerge that feel uncomfortable or even at times terrifying.

Insomnia is an indicator that there is a hidden, buried truth in our minds that we don’t want to know. We fear that when we sleep, it will appear in a dream and for that reason our subconscious inhibits and represses our ability to sleep.

However, pure insomnia does not necessarily need any underlying reason to occur. It can appear at any moment with no reason whatsoever. The truth that it hides is just as much the seed of a revelation about something the insomniac needs to know as it is the nucleus of an emotional or mental state that is difficult to explain. 

Whatever the case may be, when insomnia becomes chronic, it is necessary to consult a specialist. It should be taken as a warning sign, a red flag, that signifies the presence of something deeper that urgently needs to be resolved.

Image courtesy of German Alvarez de Cienfuegos Galvez

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.