1. Your energy during the day is all back-to-front. You can hardly drag yourself out of bed in the morning, and feel weary most of the day, but then magically, as the night comes on your energy lifts and you can actually get things done.
2. Then it’s hard to get to sleep. Who would have thought you were so tired early today?
3. Your resilience to even the minor stresses of life has evaporated. Instead, feelings of anxiety seem to be popping up more frequently.
4. You’re craving salty foods. Pass the crisps, thanks, and add plenty of salt to that meal.
5. Your blood pressure is too low, sometimes bringing on dizziness.
6. You bruise easily. Somehow, somewhere, you’ve bumped into objects and although there are bruises you can’t remember how you acquired them.
WHY THIS HAPPENS
Sitting atop your kidneys are two little glands, the adrenals, whose job, basically, is to keep you alert and aware at the right time, and with the assistance of other chemical messengers in your body allow you to relax and revive when you need to.
The adrenal glands secrete adrenaline, cortisol and glucocorticoids. Adrenaline you’ve probably already heard of as the substance that helps you either stay to fight or take flight when threatened. In a healthy lifestyle there are times when you’re challenged (producing more adrenal hormones) and get time to rest (when adrenal hormone production reduces significantly). But if your work and lifestyle means you’re ‘on’ constantly your adrenal glands can become depleted from constant production of hormones that keep you alert to threats. That’s adrenal fatigue in a nutshell.
HOW ADRENAL FATIGUE IS MEASURED AND TREATED
Some people, savvy to the signs they’re not coping as well as they expected, seek help for their adrenal fatigue. Others, alas, push on until their resilience has completely dissolved.
A salivary hormone test of your cortisol levels during the day is a useful way to measure the degree of adrenal fatigue happening. In a healthy body cortisol levels peak between 6 and 8 am, as your body wakes up. Then a slow decline in cortisol production ensues as the day progresses. After sundown melatonin is the hormone that should lift so you can wind down for sleep. In adrenal fatigue this is reversed, reflecting low energy in the morning (with low cortisol production) and increased cortisol production in the evenings resulting in an energy lift as well as trouble getting to sleep.
Natural treatment for adrenal fatigue is centred on providing the raw materials to help your adrenal glands produce the right amount of cortisol at the appropriate time; perhaps providing herbs or homoeopathic remedies to bolster your stress resilience and reduce anxiety. Also, and importantly, lifestyle counselling to address the reasons your adrenal glands ran out of steam. That means learning how to care for your body and monitor your emotional well-being. Finding ways to wind down at night so you can get a good night’s sleep, eating regularly, and exercising too.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it; but a person with adrenal fatigue can actually find a regular, balanced and moderate lifestyle challenging to implement. How long this journey to recovery takes, and how well you become again depends on how burnt out your adrenals are now and the level of your commitment to take the actions that make you well again.
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