Why am I so tired, but can’t fall asleep? Stressed out and running on adrenaline? The root cause could be your adrenal glands..
The adrenal glands, the body’s stress management system, is responsible for the release of “fight or flight” hormones, including cortisol, that give us extra energy to meet a perceived threat. Dangerous situations, exciting sporting events, a job interview ……. even seemingly positive events can result in an increase in stress levels.
When functioning properly, the adrenals release cortisol equal to our perception of a situation, and then return levels to a normal state. When not, hormones can remain in an excited “fight or flight” mode, never leveling off, leading to a state of hyperarousal that makes it difficult to sleep for more than a few hours at a time.
This near constant state of alertness keeps you from feeling “sleepy” all the time, but eventually leaves you with an overwhelming feeling of fatigue. Adequate sleep is necessary to feel rested. It can also result in a number of negative health consequences as we age.
Recently we discussed how insomnia, whether short-term or chronic, does more than make us tired and groggy. We shared some simple steps that you could take to help improve your quality of sleep. Below we offer some more suggestions that will help with calm your adrenal glands naturally to achieve a better nights rest.
Allow enough time to sleep – we need at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night to heal. It is best to sleep in cycles of 6, 7.5 or 9 hours.
Avoid or limit caffeine – If you do drink caffeine, drink it AFTER 9:30 AM due to the circadian cycles.
Drink water in the morning – In the first half an hour after you wake up consume a tall glass of ice water and 20-30 grams of protein. This jumps starts your metabolism, also helping with weight management!
Chiropractic adjustments – The 9th thoracic nerve in the spine controls the adrenal gland function so be sure to have your spine checked for misalignments in the mid-back (A VERY common area where many of us hold stress – causing misalignment and nerve interference)
Acupuncture – Working on the endocrine system with acupuncture allow us to get out of the FIGHT or FLIGHT and into REST and DIGEST! This is where we can heal. A twenty-minute session on acupuncture is equivalent to 2 hours of sleep!
Supplemental or herbal support – Supplements or herbals specific for adrenal gland function may rebuild glandular function (Rhodiola, protomorphigens, Holy Basil, Eleuthero,) Take a good quality multivitamin, magnesium, Vitamin C, and a methylated B complex. Please, consult your doctor to ensure you are taking the correct supplement or herb for you.
Learn to meditate – You do not have to become a Zen Master to manage your stress. Laying with your eyes closed or chanting for as little as 8 minutes will calm the adrenal glands and allow them to heal
Good nutrition – Eat more protein. Avoid caffeine, white carbs and sugars, fast food/junk food, and carbonated beverages.
Exercise – Participate in light exercise in times of stress 3-4 days a week: walking, yoga or Pilates are the best in times of stress. Strenuous exercise will raise cortisol levels when one is already stressed. Why would you want to sabotage your recovery?
Reduce stress and support yourself emotionally. Although we can’t get away from stress, we can support our bodies to help us deal with it better. Slow down, do not try to multi-task as it will only stress you out, raise cortisol and cause weight gain.
Laugh… and laugh some more!