Did You Know Sleep Gives Your Adrenals A Much Needed Break
Fight or flight. You’ve heard of it, right? Accompanied with the image of the saber-toothed tiger dashing after a hunter, getting ready for a tasty human meal. You often find yourself in this predicament, don’t you? In modern times, we’re not literally in that frantic position, but our bodies are often reacting as if we were fighting for our lives. This constant over stimulation, elevated stress response, leads to chronic inflammation. Our adrenal glands, located on top of each kidney, are forced to work overtime in an effort to deal with stress from all sources: injury, disease, work, family, finances, environment, etc.
It’s hard to imagine these small little glands, essentially the size of a walnut, produce hormones that help the body control blood sugar, burn protein and fat, react to stressors like major illness or injury, and regulate blood pressure. Cortisol production, especially, is crucial for the body to combat stress. Whereas thousands of years ago the stress was only a small amount of time – you either outran the predator or you were eaten – nowadays, stress seems to be a state of constant being for so many people.
Although not getting along with a boss or missing a bill payment are not life-threatening like the saber-toothed tiger, our bodies react to these stresses in a similar fashion. When the body starts to feel unsettled more and more cortisol is produced, because the body believes it needs massive amounts of energy to run for its life. This happens over and over again throughout the day: getting the kids ready for school and getting yourself ready for work, traffic, spilling coffee on your new suit, your assistant calls in sick and you’ve got to send out 20 packages today, the babysitter is late picking up the kids from school and taking them to soccer practice, your late afternoon meeting runs over and you leave the office late so family dinner becomes you eating leftovers alone. And all this is going to happen again tomorrow! I'm getting tired just writing about it.
Here’s the problem: chronic stress can overload the adrenal glands to the point of exhaustion. For some, the fatigue will become overwhelming and the adrenals will no longer function properly to provide the energy and resources the body needs on a day-to-day basis. When someone is exhausted, a natural suggestion is to get more sleep. That’s not always easy with adrenal problems because insomnia is a common symptom. A vicious cycle. There are, however, steps you can take to prepare yourself for sleep, which is certainly one of the best ways to refresh and rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit.
For better sleep and to heal your adrenal glands:
1) Go to bed at the same time every night.
2) Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and sugar after 2pm (or remove them completely from your diet to avoid any rollercoaster-like blood sugar surges, this is ideal).
3) Keep a gratitude journal near your bedside. Every night, list five things for which you are grateful. Remind yourself that even though you may feel fatigued, there are wonderful aspects of your life and many reasons to heal.
4) Have a bedtime ritual to help prepare your brain and body for sleep. Maybe a hot epsom bath, hot tea or tumeric milk, turn off devices and TV 1-2 hours prior to bed, meditate or stretch.
Let me know in the comments below what your bedtime rituals are. How is your sleep quality and quantity? I'd love to hear from you.
If you are ready to take the next steps balancing your adrenals, cleaning up your diet, or implementing new healthy habits, contact me for a FREE 60-min Clarity Call to see if you are ready for some health coaching.
You can always find me on Facebook @LightBodyHealing, or on YouTube, Twitter & Instagram @drlaramay.
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