Adrenal Fatigue: Signs, Symptoms, & Healing Tips
My Adrenal Fatigue Story
Not too long ago I required 12+ hours of sleep a night to function, I craved pretzels on a daily basis, and I was tired no matter how much I slept. I was like this ever since I could remember and it just became normal for me. I was easily overwhelmed and mentally exhausted. It was like the feeling of not getting enough sleep the night before, combined with a hangover everyday. I was always someone who was on the go. I loved being busy and not having any down time, well except of course some down time to take a nap.
In college I would go to the gym in the morning, nap before my 11am class, come back from class and nap before my 1:30 class even if it was just a 20 minute nap, and that was how I got through my day.
It wasn’t until June 2017 when I started seeing a doctor who specializes in hormones that I learned there was a reason for all of this. I wasn’t just born into someone who was always tired and overwhelmed easily, it was my hormones! When I first began seeing my doctor in June 2017 to treat my PCOS, he wanted to run other blood tests to rule anything else out. My doctor sent me home with a salvia adrenal test that would test my cortisol levels. At the time, I wasn’t too familiar with the hormone cortisol. Little did I know, this hormone impacts your stress levels, weight, anxiety and works together with other hormones in your body.
What Is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is an imbalance of the hormone cortisol. The hormone cortisol is what gives us energy, helps us sleep and wake up in the morning, helps us maintain a healthy weight, and helps us manage stress. When your cortisol levels are not functioning properly, you become exhausted and sometimes tired, but wired. Many people will find it difficult to keep up with daily stressors. When your adrenal glands are functioning properly, it has a direct effect on your mood, weight, stress and anxiety levels, and other hormones.
What Are The Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue?
2. Inability to deal with stress
3. Concentration and memory issues
5. Poor immune system
6. Weight gain (Usually in the mid-section)
7. Craving for salty foods
What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?
The most common cause of adrenal fatigue is acute or prolonged stress, which weakens the adrenal glands. Other common causes are environmental toxins and pollution, emotional trauma, lack of sleep, poor diet, food sensitivities, surgery, and overusing caffeine products.
How To Heal Adrenal Fatigue Naturally:
1. Sleep: This one is the most important. Find how much sleep your body requires and get that amount each night. While it was not normal to require 12+ hours of sleep a night, it was the best thing I could have done for my body. I knew that was the amount I needed in order to function, and that’s how much I slept. After starting treatment for my PCOS, Hashimoto’s, and adrenal fatigue, I no longer required that many hours of sleep, but I did require between 8-9 to feel my best. It’s recommended to get into bed between 9-10pm each night
2. Reduce Stress: So much easier said than done, but this is key to healing. Practice yoga, meditation, and take Epsom baths at night to relax. I signed up for a yoga membership at a local studio because I knew it was force me to go. This was life changing. Not only did this help alleviate stress, but also it helped me cope with everything I was going through and just gave me an overall sense of calmness.I currently use the Headspace meditation app. This routine took me a while to get into, but I always feel amazing afterwards.
c. Adaptogenic herbs including ashwagandha, rhodiola, holy basil, licorice root and ginseng. These herbs can help with stress and sleep
4. Slow Down: This was the hardest step for me. I love being busy and not having too much down time. I started forcing myself to say no to plans if I was exhausted, and leaving places early if I began to feel drained. You won’t be able to keep up with your friends or family members who are healthy, and that’s okay. If your co-workers and friends are exhausted after a 40-hour workweek, then you will likely be 5x more exhausted and it’s important to take care of yourself.
5. Change Your Diet:
a. Caffeine and sugar are the two most important things to avoid, as both of them weaken your adrenal glands.
b. Include a lot of healthy fats including coconut, avocado, grass-fed meats, and grass-fed butter
What Should I Do Next?
If you’re dealing with Hashimoto’s and your lab numbers are perfect, but you still can’t lose that extra 5 pounds, you’re always tired, and you have any other symptoms that I mentioned, I highly recommend getting your adrenals tested. If you suspect you have adrenal fatigue, you can begin practicing many of the tips I mentioned earlier. I would always consult with a doctor before starting any new supplement, but you can focus on the stress relief techniques, sleep tips, and diet suggestions.
The fascinating thing about our body is that, even without testing you can get a good idea about your adrenal function. For example, just by me describing how I was feeling and my energy patterns, my doctor had a good feeling that my body was producing too much cortisol at the wrong times. The timing of when you product cortisol is extremely important.
My cortisol levels were off the chart high at all the wrong times, which was causing me to wake up exhausted, crash In the afternoon, and get a sudden burst of energy at night, where I suddenly felt like I could run a marathon. Because of my cortisol being out of whack, I was experiencing fatigue, insomnia even though I was exhausted, a very fast heartbeat, anxiety, and cravings for salty food.