Question: How did you sleep last night?
We live in a day in age where everyone is hopped up on sugars, and adrenaline. Have you heard of the “Fight or Flight” response that all of us have? When our lives our threatened, our glands pump adrenaline into our bodies that make us respond. This has been the case since the beginning, when was first on the earth. The idea is that if a predator was chasing after an early man, he would have that burst of energy to either run or fight the beast off. The problem is, the great majority of us today are not threatened to survive. We live in relatively safe and comfortable surroundings.
So why are “we” so dosed up on adrenaline or cortisol (the stress hormones), if we aren’t running or fighting for our lives? The answer is simple. Stress. Rushing to get out the door in the morning to our destination on time. Rushing to get the house picked up before someone comes over last-minute. Your bills might be stacking up with little time to get enough money to pay them all. Maybe you have a deadline with work, and little time to get it done in. These types of situations are all things that our body responds to by pumping cortisol into our system…to get the job done.
The adrenal glands are two walnut sized glands located at the top of your kidneys. These glands are responsible for releasing hormones into your body, like cortisol, epinepherine, estrogen, and testosterone.
How often are you stressed about something in a day? I know yesterday, I was stressed about getting some assignments done, getting some chores done, and preparing meals to get out of the house on time AND to eat a healthy snack and dinner. Then the kids started to argue, and I felt my heart-rate increase – while I was in the middle of my stress cycle. Then out came the “fight” aka the bear. I got my errands done, I got the kids where they needed to be, and we even ate very well on the run. I also got so tired that I just couldn’t anymore. I was done. I was exhausted. I was stressed out for half the day. HALF OF THE DAY. So for that half of the day, my body was producing cortisol to keep me going. Yet, my life was not threatened in any way.
Chronic stress can overload the adrenal glands, causing adrenal fatigue. When we reach the point of adrenal fatigue, we might be experiencing insomnia. We feel tired, but we are still wired and cannot seem to sleep. We will have zero energy, even after getting a full nights rest. Let’s face it, our bodies have to be well-balanced in order to be healthy, and sleep is one of those components that is vital to having good health, and even weight loss. When we are so exhausted from “going, going, going,” we might experience cravings for foods that are not going to help us get healthier. Our bodies won’t have enough time to rest, and rebuild from the stress of the day, starting us out just a little behind. This can build up. When that happens, we need to slow down and allow our adrenal glands to heal and catch up to our lives.
Here are some tips to getting yourself whole again, and getting the rest that you need:
- Go to bed at the same time every night around 10:00-10:30 PM.
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine and sugar later in the day. Ultimately it is best to avoid these anyway, to prevent our blood sugar levels from spiking throughout our day.
- Try thinking about 3-5 things that you are grateful for before you go to sleep. List them out in a journal or out loud. Even though you might be exhausted, there are always things that we can be grateful for.