In today’s blog I have a testimonial from a member with chronic insomnia for 35 years. He managed to address several other symptoms but the nagging 4am-4pm sleep schedule made his life very difficult. I received an email from him about the Circadian Retraining Program and he jumped all in. His results are nothing short of amazing!
1)Tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are, what you do, etc.
Well, I live in South Eastern Australia on a small farm. I’m definitely a foodie and have very strong interests in food and the human body. I’ve done a lot in my 47 years – Owned businesses, traveled, gained my pilot’s license, studied medicine and achieved so many things. One thing I really love is life’s challenges. Not a day goes by that I don’t learn something new about health. I worked on resolving my health issues for about 35 years, since the onset at age 12.
Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, migraines, neurological issues, digestive issues, food sensitivities, immune function, sleep disturbances, and symptoms that impacted my ability to function normally. After the initial onset and many courses of antibiotics, my doctors told me they could not find anything wrong. It was all in my head and I was just lazy.
2)You contacted me a few months ago and mentioned that most of your issues are largely controlled. But you still experienced delayed sleep phase syndrome and chronic insomnia. Talk to me about the solution you found for each of your issues and how you found them.
Me? Wow that is a big topic, so forgive me if I don’t go deep into the science. About age 20 I decided if the doctors could not help me then I needed to create an environment that worked for me. So I became self-employed and that allowed me to work my own hours, around my sleep and level of wellness
I guess it began with the ongoing headaches. So I looked into my eyesight, as my vision was painful and using a ton of energy. That’s when I met Dr Michael Christian who uses a microprism technology that he developed.
I’d call him a neurological optometrist. From my limited understanding, he uses a prism inside the lens to balance vision in coherence with body movement and function.
I started out with a magnification of +4.50 left eye and +2.50 right eye, very unbalanced. Today I am +1.00 in both eyes and see with ease and clarity. Over the years I saw so many doctors that gave me labels, pills and no solutions, but this solved one of my problems.
Chronic insomnia and stuck in bed
There was a growing trend for me to accept this illness in the absence of a rational explanation. In 2009 I was in bed for weeks at a time and could hardly function. I believe that the doctors virtually medicated me into this state. At that point I started learning, researching, and understanding. If I did not help myself, nothing would change. I tried every healing modality I could find at that point.
Over the next 8 years life got pretty tough and I had such unsupported resistance to my invisible illness. This resulted in a breakdown of my marriage. Then I was assaulted and incapacitated further.
As the search continued, I found a Dr Graham Exelby. He is a dysautonomia researcher 2 States away working on this very type of situation. After making contact, he agreed to see me. I put countless hours into preparing my complete family medical history, just like Dr House from TV. Upon arrival he booked a battery of tests for me over the coming days with various specialists and labs. It made me so happy to be in a team approach to my illness.
Finding some clues
When I finally met with this doctor, he began to interconnect everything that I learned over the years. He took the time to educate me on dysautonomia, and told me to get beyond symptoms and get to the drivers. It helps if you know where to look.
The cardiologist discovered a Patent Foramen Ovale(PFO) during a trans-cranial Doppler. Basically, it’s a little bypass in the heart that happens during exertion, and he told me the treatment was to avoid holding my breath or straining.
Next was the ultrasound on my knees which revealed a popliteal vein compression. I was informed that was the cause of my restless leg syndrome and the treatment was to never lock my knees. It causes micro-pulmonary emboli that got caught in the lung tissue.
We then looked at the food issues and he told me to avoid salicylates, glutamates and amines in foods. He also referred me to have some work done on my neck. A technique developed by a guy in Adelaide who specializes in cervical spine stability. It was a non-invasive C2/C3 manipulation. It only took 2 visits to see improvement.
I measured a 66 on a dysautonomia scale from 0 to 66 at my worst. But over the next few weeks I saw a reduction. Upon arriving home, I contacted Craig Philips from DMA physiotherapy to explain my situation. Wow, he knew all about this stuff.
On my first appointment I was 14% on the patient specific function scale and 14 inches from touching my toes. At the end of the first session I touched my toes without autonomic activation.
DMA has a model and framework to address a patient’s sensitivity to directional loading. With this understanding I could restore function. It’s heavily researched by Dr Annina Schmidt at Oxford University.
Autonomic dysfunction and movement
I went on to learn more about movement-based dysfunctions and autonomic disease. During this time I saw a direct correlation between the increase in my movement-based scale and the reduction in my dysautonomia score.
At 6 months I was about 67% movement, 3% dysautonomia. At 12 months I was about 87% function and no dysautonomia. We drove functional change. My doctor was right, the autonomic tone was in the arterial load and we resolved one of the primary inflammatory divers.
For me it was time to work on the gut, as it was apparent that was in dysfunction. Likely as a result of the prolonged inflammatory load that it could not cope with. So, for the next months I dove deep into healing and supporting the digestive system, when www.hackyourgut.com came up I looked at that. This put your work on my radar.
3)When you contacted me via email through Hack Your Gut, you mentioned that you wanted to solve the delayed sleep phase issue. All of your other issues were under control. What did you do up until that point? Were you living a relatively normal life?
My life was normal for me, I had things in a delicate balance between food, energy, and movement, which all revolved around my sleep patterns. I learned all that I could, but it had little impact. So I experienced sleep deprivation with a delayed onset at 4am and forcing myself to wake at 12pm. I never felt rested, always tired, fatigued and mostly felt like crap.
This went on for years, but I didn’t want to accept it. Often I was hurt and offended by people’s comments like,” Oh, you sleep all day”. As if the impact of the condition didn’t frustrate me enough, impairing the quality of my life. I remember my doctor saying to address drivers. It’s circadian I thought, and at this point I worked through every other function in the body.
4)You started the program and wanted to get rid of your chronic insomnia and sleep on a normal schedule (10pm-6:30am). You had a pretty rapid turnaround. How quickly did you see results and how deeply did you implement the CRP?
I actually saw the results in 2 weeks. Being a type-A person, I only skimmed over the program. I literally went, “There is the timing stuff, there is the cuing stuff, there is the HPA stuff hypothalamus- pituitary- adrenal, there is the movement stuff”. I worked out what would come easy and what would not.
I remember changing my eating times rapidly and I crashed, so I eased into that. I guess I went too hard on it all and backed off on the things that were slower to come. Then at the 2-week mark it all came online. Asleep by 10 pm, and waking naturally rested at 6am. So now I am committed to going into this in great detail to see what other changes occur.
5)How have your remaining health issues changed since returning eliminating chronic insomnia?
Well over the next month or so it was a serious reboot for my body, like someone is at a switchboard turning circuits back online. I saw general mood improvement, mental clarity, energy release, even my range of movement function. Then all the gut stuff just started working and of course the food sensitivity was mostly resolved.
If I may share my thoughts on all of this, I don’t believe I’m cured. I’m well managed as I have the tools to support change, rather than force it. Empowering people to get well by educating them and giving them control of the outcome, rather than a bottle of pills is the way forward for autonomic conditions.
In fact, my story is not an isolated case. I have many other people taking the same actions and achieving the same result. Success leaves clues.
I’d like to thank Mark for taking the time to speak with me about this. We originally recorded the conversation but we had an issue with the audio. Nevertheless, his story is as powerful in the written word as it was during our discussion.
As you can see, Mark went through quite the journey that mirrors many who have dealt with chronic conditions. I’m psyched that he saw amazing progress in the program and beat chronic insomnia. I look forward to following his progress.
If you have chronic insomnia and want more info on the Circadian Retraining Program, click here.