So, you’re not a morning person? Even though you try to go to bed early, but upon waking, you still feel lethargic and tired. Throughout the day it doesn’t get any better, you have little spikes of energy thanks to your coffee that you get downstairs from work or school before you can even think of “adulting”. Yeah, I know right, it's stressful, you already have enough on your plate before you have to start dealing with all the curve balls life throws your way, bills, drama, staying healthy and fit, it's all just too much sometimes, you’re just too tired to deal! It's only lunchtime and you’re already thinking about bed, oh look another coffee, that will do the trick……… or will it?
After painting a picture of what I see from a lot of my clients and friends, it's time to get into some details about why you are always tired. First of all I’m not saying everyone who feels like this has adrenal fatigue (also called adrenal maladaptation), but I’m sure most of you aren’t even aware of what it is. Let’s not exclude these other factors that may have you feeling run down:
- Lack of water;
- Lack of sleep;
- Under eating;
- Poor gut health; and/or
- Low iron levels (Rachel will touch on that in part 2)
As much as we think coffee is our saviour, it is one of the main causes of adrenal maladaptation when combined with stress of our normal daily lives and poor diet. Caffeine is right up there with cocaine and sugar as being an addictive stimulant.
When we have caffeine it triggers a chemical reaction, our brains have been switched on and alert, you have probably heard of “Fight or Flight’, which is when our bodies natural defence systems turns on. You either become alert, switching off your sleepy chemicals such as “serotonin” which makes you feel safe and calm and your brain triggers your adrenaline. Adrenaline is pretty much a conversion of glycogen to the brain, which can stimulate an alert response to handle objectives and manage stress. Like any stress, physical or emotional, even exercise for example, uses a high amount of glycogen and sugars to power cells in the body, and after a workout you find yourself going though hypoglycaemia, a reduction in sugars to the brain which can make you feel drained and tired. The same thing happens after a spike of adrenaline, leaving you feel deflated, and sometimes depressed.
The link between the two can come down to the deficiency of serotonin in the brain. Trying to release the right amount of chemicals to help you recover and feel stable is very hard if this adrenal fatigue is a chromic problem, having stressful events, anxiety and depression can leave the body always feeling tired.
Sleep patterns become sporadic and insomnia takes place, as our cortisol levels have become too high, send the brain in to an alert state, you know when it becomes 11 at night and all you can think about is how you short changed the guy at the shops by 30 cents back in 2012 and you feel terrible and cant sleep…. Yeah that, that’s a cortisol imbalance which is the hormone released by stress.
So how can we stop this cycle?
- Try to keep caffeine consumption to a minimum, and consume no caffeine after 1pm;
- Take time out, do something fun and creative, or even just get out for a walk;
- Fuel the body with the nutrients it needs, some that may help with this specifically are turmeric, B vitamins, magnesium, or even using essential oils;
- Drink less alcohol; and
- Tidy up your diet: reduce the amount of processed foods and junk.
Adrenal fatigue (maladaptation) can lead to some dangerous conditions over the long term, so I urge you to try and follow some of these tips, reduce stress, and live a healthier lifestyle.