Sleep and Adrenal Fatigue

Why is sleep important?

Most of us understand the importance of a good night’s sleep. There is scientific evidence that sleep is essential to healing and repair, delaying chronic disease, preventing premature aging, and more.

The benefits of sleep have to do with our growth hormones.

Growth hormones help us grow when we are young but also support healing after we stop growing. If we don’t sleep, we start to decline in function and health.

For you to heal, you need to sleep. The issue for most people is that to fix the sleep problem, we have to fix the Adrenal Dysfunction, which is the major cause of sleep issues.

What happens if you’re not getting enough sleep?

Your sleep is determined by your cortisol levels created by your adrenals. Cortisol creates your circadian rhythm by delivering high amounts into your body in the morning, meant to get you up and motivated for the day. Then, as the day goes on, cortisol release slows until it’s at its lowest levels right before bed, helping you to sleep.

Cortisol has many jobs because it’s your main stress hormone. With chronic stress over a period of time, cortisol levels become unpredictable: high where they ought to be low and low where they should be high. Cortisol suppresses melatonin and growth hormone. Too much or too little cortisol is going to influence your sleep cycle.

Cortisol & adrenaline, the other adrenal stress hormone, if used sparingly, can be life-saving when we need them. When used excessively, these hormones cause a lot of wear and tear on your whole body. Some of this occurs in the brain in a small organ called the hippocampus, which is our sleep architecture’s central location. Too much damage and not enough healing and repair is not a recipe for good health and well being.

What do you need to do to get good sleep?

  • Stop damaging the sleep centers in your brain with too much cortisol and adrenaline. 
  • Fix the damage in the brain/hippocampus from excess cortisol and adrenaline.
  • Reduce any evening raised cortisol and/or adrenaline. 
  • Restore the amounts of soothing neurotransmitters & hormones, which were suppressed from high cortisol and adrenaline.
  • Fix the buffering systems of the body that have been weakened by stress over time.
  • Guarantee the proper creation of melatonin and growth hormone.

How can you fix it?

  • Recreate good sleep practices that may have worsened over time.
  • Decrease any elevated evening cortisol.
  • Fix the sleep architecture in the brain (limbic and hippocampus): Options are meditation, Baicalin, Berberine, Tanshone, Genistein, Paeoniflorin, Resveratrol, Quercetin, Cod Liver Oil, etc.
  • Repair the primary buffering/insulating system, the endocannabinoid system.

If you’re waking between 1:00 AM and 3:00 AM, that may mean you have low blood sugar occurring from low glycogen reserves in the liver, low adrenal function, and cortisol, or both. This is often the culprit when you have panic or anxiety attacks, nightmares, or restless sleep between 1 and 4 AM.

If low blood sugar is disturbing sound sleep, maintaining healthy adrenal function and dealing with adrenal fatigue may help you get better sleep. 

Also, having a healthy snack before you go to bed can help strengthen your body’s energy reserves at night. The snack should be one or two bites of food with protein, unrefined carbohydrate, and high-quality fat, like half a slice of whole-grain toast with peanut butter or a piece of cheese on a whole grain cracker. 

Eating or drinking sugary foods will only make the problem worse. Sometimes exercising before you go to bed can help because exercise raises cortisol levels.

Sleep, diet, and regular exercise are essential components of a healthy life. People on alternating shifts with less than three weeks between shift changes are constantly pounding their adrenal glands and may become very susceptive to adrenal fatigue.

Research and clinical observation have concluded that it’s essential to sleep an average of eight hours per day. Some people need even more when recovering from adrenal fatigue. A saliva cortisol test can be done at night and compared with daytime levels will help determine if high or low cortisol may be preventing you from sleeping. 

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