Do you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, full of energy, and confident that you can take on the challenges of the day? No? Let me tell you, you are not alone. One of the questions I always ask in my new patient intake is “Do you feel refreshed when you wake up?” Most of my patients give me a “is she for real?!” look. While it may have been a while since you have felt refreshed in the morning, especially if you are a mom, please know that you can feel that way again.
Are you like the majority of my patients who wake feeling tired and then need boosts of caffeine and sugar to get through the day. These patients have also often gone to their doctors, had blood work done, and have been told that everything is within the normal range. So why then do they feel so “not normal?”
The main cause of these symptoms is Adrenal Fatigue. I go over a more in depth explanation of adrenal fatigue in this blog post. The adrenal glands are responsible for secreting our stress hormone cortisol. It is cortisol that helps us to have the “fight or flight” response. If you are under stress for a long period of time, your body keeps secreting cortisol, because it thinks that you are being chased by a bear. In modern times we are chased by a lot of bears: deadlines at work, kids that won’t sleep or stop crying, making ends meet, and saving for the future. Your body can’t tell the difference between a life threatening stress and the kind that we are faced with every day. It just secretes cortisol in response. If too much cortisol is secreted over a long period of time you can get to the point where your body does not respond to stress as well, AKA Adrenal Fatigue.
Sound a bit like your life?
Here are some signs that your adrenal glands are at the root of your lack of energy
- You Drag Yourself Out of Bed In The Morning- Your cortisol levels should be at their peak in the morning, giving you plenty of energy to get out of bed. If you are hitting the snooze button multiple times and REALLY not wanting to get up, it is a sign that your adrenal glands need some attention.
- Needing Coffee or Energy Drinks To Get Through The Day- Your cortisol levels should be high in the morning. You should not need caffeine to start the day. Experiencing a mid-day slump, and wanting to take a nap at your desk, can be a sign that cortisol is dropping too quickly over the day.
- Feeling “Tired But Wired” In The Evening- With how tired you have been all day, falling asleep at night should be no problem right? Wrong. If your cortisol is high in the evening, when it should be low, it can counteract the effects of the melatonin your body naturally secretes, making it difficult to fall asleep.
- Cravings for Salt and Sugar- Your adrenal glands use salt to make their hormones. If they can’t keep up they make you crave salt to get more of the raw ingredients they need. The body sees sugar as a quick energy source and makes you have intense sugar cravings when your adrenals are stressed.
- You Feel Irritable or Depressed- Do you find yourself having bad road rage, less patience with your kids and just not feeling like yourself? Time to look at your adrenals.
- You Catch Everything- Have you had every cold, flu, virus that has made the rounds this year? When we are under constant stress it decreases the ability of the immune system to fight off these illnesses.
- You Can’t Exercise as Hard as you Used to- Feeling exhausted from what used to be your warm up? Do you feel very tired and sore for a few days after a workout? The body sees intense exercise as another stress. If your body is already not coping well with stress/cortisol, intense exercise can leave you feeling worse, not better.
- You Have No Libido- When we are under stress our body goes into survival mode. A body in survival mode does not see reproduction as a priority. Most of the precursor hormones that are used to make adrenal hormones are also used to make the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. When you are under stress the body makes more adrenal hormones and less sex hormones. As sex hormone levels fall, so does libido, energy and mental clarity.
Now that you know the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue, what can you do about it? First off, it is important to see your Naturopathic Doctor to make sure nothing else is going on. Thyroid dysfunction in particular, as it can have similar symptoms. There are tests that can be run to determine the health of your adrenal glands, and there is plenty that can be done to heal your adrenal glands with the right diet and lifestyle choices. I go over a few of those diet and lifestyle interventions in this blog post.
I hope you learned something in today’s post and are feeling ready to get your adrenals back on track
Dr Alexis practices in Stittsville at Living Science Wellness Centre and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, please call 613.836.7901