If you’re feeling burnt out and exhausted, you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue. Your adrenal glands are your stress-coping organs, central to your hormonal system, located on top of your kidneys. With so much going on around us, we often don’t realize that subtle changes to our daily routine can upset the balance of our adrenal glands and our hormones. Adrenal fatigue can manifest itself in a variety of mental, physical and emotional ways. One of the most frustrating symptoms is feeling both exhausted yet struggling to get a good night’s sleep.
What do hormones and adrenal fatigue have to do with my sleep?
Hormone balance is key to a solid sleep/wake cycle—cortisol, the stress hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, is directly involved in this cycle. A lack of sleep coupled with adrenal fatigue can lead to a disturbance in your sleep/wake cycle. If your cortisol levels are too high or too low, you won’t be able to get rejuvenating sleep. Additionally, your adrenal glands also secrete the hormone adrenaline when you’re stressed out. Both cortisol and adrenaline can increase your alertness, making it more difficult for you to relax and easily fall to sleep at night. Insomnia is a symptom of adrenal fatigue, but luckily there are steps to take to treat it.
1) Avoid simple carbs & high sugar foods before bed
Mixing up your diet is an important part of working through adrenal fatigue. While carbs and processed food (i.e. that spoonful of ice cream) seem like an easy snack, opt for healthier options like a handful of nuts or dried fruit.
2) Limit your drinks
A glass of wine (or two) might seem like a great way to unwind after a long day at the office. However, alcohol has a negative impact on the depth and quality of your sleep. Try mixing up your nightly ritual and instead opt for a hot cup of tea with lemon and honey.
3) Mood lighting
With long summer nights, our sleep schedule can naturally be thrown off a bit. Once it becomes dark outside, dim the lights in your home to help your body stay connected to your circadian rhythms.
4) Stay away from caffeine
Coffee and tea might help you get through the day, but try limiting your intake and avoid caffeinated beverages after noon—your sleep will thank you!
5) Digital detox time
Picture this: You’re all set to go to bed, about to turn off the light and what do you reach for? Your phone. Though we’ve all heard it before, endlessly browsing Instagram feeds and other apps on your phone is a big no-no before bed. The blue light from your phone (and T.V.!) interferes with your natural production of melatonin, the hormone that allows you to fall asleep.
It’ll take being more intentional to get rid of these habits—Instead try reading a book, journaling, taking a bath or exploring guided meditation. Just be sure you’re avoiding that artificial blue light and creating a serene environment.
6) Create a calming space
The space where you sleep should be as clutter-free as your mind before you go to bed. Excess clutter in your room can directly impact your mental health and make it more difficult for you to go to bed. Your bedroom should be a relaxing sanctuary where you can feel truly centered.
7) Go to bed before 10:30 p.m.
There are only 24 hours in a day so it makes sense that we want to jam pack as much as we can in—no matter how late we may go to bed. If you’re feeling a second wind of energy around 11 p.m., it’s because we have a cortisol surge around that time that can keep us up for hours after, which, in turn, makes it hard to fall asleep. Take baby steps to go to bed by 10:30 p.m. to keep your adrenal health in order.