The truth about "Adrenal Fatigue" and what it means for your sleep
If you think you have adrenal fatigue, you want to read this!
Do you have these symptoms?
fatigue, especially when you wake up, with “crashes” throughout the day
poor stress response and mood regulation
increased energy levels in the evenings
cravings for salty and sweet foods
overuse of caffeine and other stimulants
a compromised immune system
My client RC had most of these symptoms: she couldn’t sleep, she was tired all the time and she felt like every little thing that happened to her was super stressful.
If you have these symptoms, you may have been told that you have adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue is actually a misnomer. The name makes it sound like something is wrong with your adrenal glands. This is only the case with the autoimmune condition Addison’s disease, which is uncommon.
Your adrenals are part of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal system or the HPA axis. The hypothalamus signals the pituitary which tells the adrenal glands to make cortisol (and other hormones).
The premise behind adrenal fatigue is that your adrenals can’t keep up with the stress in your life to make enough cortisol to deal with that stress. The medical and scientific communities don't believe this condition exists. That’s because that’s not actually what happens.
What happens is that as the body becomes desensitized to stress hormones like cortisol (similar to insulin resistance), the whole HPA axis starts breaking down. The hypothalamus may not produce enough hormones to signal the pituitary because of medications, toxins or circadian rhythm issues. The pituitary might have low signaling hormones because of receptor problems or neurotransmitter imbalance. The adrenals could lose sensitivity to the signaling hormones. If any of these things happen, you can experience symptoms of adrenal fatigue but your adrenals are functioning just fine.
What’s actually happening is that you’re in metabolic chaos, which means that your body is breaking down.
You’re tired but wired and you can’t sleep because your hormones are out of balance, your gut is unhealthy and your minerals are messed up.
Trying to “fix” your adrenals isn’t going to solve the problem. Finding out what’s causing your body to make excess cortisol is the key. If you’re under a lot of mental or emotional stress, your body can start breaking down. This is why so many people get insomnia after a stressful or traumatic event like going through a divorce or a family member getting sick.
There can also be physiological stressors going on in your body that you don’t know about:
When your body has to make a lot of cortisol to deal with stress, it doesn’t have enough resources to make other hormones, so your sex hormones get depleted.
Mental stress affects your digestion and damages your gut wall, making you more susceptible to infections from pathogens and more likely to react to foods.
Chronic stress depletes certain minerals like potassium and magnesium which leads to excess calcium and mineral imbalances.
All of these conditions put more stress on your body, causing your body to continue breaking down and causing lots of undesirable symptoms like insomnia, fatigue, and eventually different diseases and disorders.
Through lab testing, we found out my client RC had many physical stressors. She had H. pylori, c. difficile and a parasite! Her estrogen and progesterone were extremely low from being on birth control. And her cortisol was depleted from chronic stress, both mental and physical. We worked on her gut, her hormones and her stress and within 3 months she was sleeping great!
Because both mental and physical stressors affect the body, I help my clients address both so they can restore their health and sleep like a normal person. I use functional lab testing to get the big picture of what’s going on in your body so we know what to work on. I also use cognitive behavioral techniques and life coaching skills to help with your sleep anxiety and stress in general.