Feeling Tired Even After Restful Sleep? You May Be Experiencing Adrenal Fatigue

There are few things more frustrating than waking up after a long night of sleep and still feeling as exhausted as you did the night before. We live in a culture that so often glorifies lack of sleep as if it were a badge of honor, but in reality, this lack of sleep is both unhealthy and counterproductive. Exhaustion can make it hard to live a full and healthy life, and also can slow your progress on career and creative projects.

Things become even more difficult when lack of sleep is intertwined with a health issue, like adrenal fatigue. The condition, which is characterized by – among other things – exhaustion, brain fog, burnout, and mood issues, can have a lot to do with sleep. A continual lack of proper sleep over the course of several months can be a contributing factor to adrenal fatigue developing. Once adrenal fatigue has set in, it can lead you to struggle to get quality rest no matter how many hours you sleep.

Feeling Tired Even After Restful Sleep? You May Be Experiencing Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is not yet a widely understood condition, but several public figures have come forward sharing their experience. Wellness blogger Lee from America was one such public figure. “I suffered with serious adrenal fatigue for about 16 months when I hit my mid-twenties,” she wrote on her blog. She detailed her busy life in New York City, drinking 3-4 cups of coffee each day, staying out late with clients in the evenings, and constantly playing catch-up.

“Until [getting adrenal fatigue], my go-go lifestyle was something I treasured and held high,” Lee explained, before detailing how her 24/7 pace was actually forcing her to slow down in the end. “I liked always being pumped up and having something to do and somewhere to go. I hated the idea of slowing down or falling behind. But then, my hormones caught up to me, and I tried everything but the only thing that worked was SLOWING DOWN.”

For Lee, adrenal fatigue manifested with frustrating symptoms like struggling to get through exercises that were once easy for her, and staying up late at night with a racing mind. She considered herself a morning person, so when she struggled to get out of bed, she knew something was wrong.

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Lee would experience what she called the “Fatigue Blanket,” an afternoon onset of debilitating exhaustion that was sometimes accompanied by migraines.

Fortunately, according to Lee’s blog, she’s much healthier and happier these days. However, her experience is a common one. It’s tough to see adrenal fatigue coming before it shows up, because our culture treats overwhelm and overextending ourselves as a norm. It can be difficult to notice that something is wrong.

The Importance Of Sleep

Regardless of whether you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue or in a peak state of health, sleep is very important. It’s one of the key pieces to the puzzle of living a happy, healthy lifestyle. Sleep may feel like a passive activity, but as you rest, your brain and body are doing powerful healing and restoring to keep you living your best life. Your mind is restoring itself, and your muscles and cells are repairing themselves.

heallthy woman that gets enough sleep

Regardless of whether you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue or in a peak state of health, sleep is very important. It’s one of the key pieces to the puzzle of living a happy, healthy lifestyle. Sleep may feel like a passive activity, but as you rest, your brain and body are doing powerful healing and restoring to keep you living your best life. Your mind is restoring itself, and your muscles and cells are repairing themselves.

Lack of sleep can impact your emotions and mood, and it can also be quite dangerous. A less-sharp mind caused by sleep deprivation can lead to costly mistakes or accidents.

When you get enough sleep, you’re better able to learn and to think creatively. Your problem-solving skills are sharper and you’re able to think on your feet. Getting sufficient sleep is like a superpower that enables you to be the best and most successful version of yourself.

Sleep And Your Health

Your immune system needs sleep to maintain its ability to fight off illnesses and health issues. When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and kidney disease. Sleep can even impact your hunger cues and blood sugar levels.

How do you know if you’re getting enough sleep?

If you have to ask yourself whether you’re getting enough sleep, odds are high that you’re not. One telltale sign of being sleep deficient is whether you feel tired enough to zonk out during the day, especially when reading, riding in a car, sitting in a movie theater, or sitting after lunch.

If you find yourself struggling to concentrate, make decisions, or think creatively, you might also be sleep deficient. When you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re at risk for a dangerous phenomenon called microsleep, which occurs when your brain “steals” sleep in tiny increments during times when you’re awake. This can lead to dangerous situations like car accidents and injuries for both yourself and the people around you.

How much sleep do you need?

On average, it’s recommended that adults get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Of course, individual circumstances may vary, and the exact amount you need can change throughout your life, especially as your body goes through different ages and phases. Many people have a very specific ideal set point – for example, 7.4 hours per night – that they function best at, and it takes some trial and error to discover your own. In general, it’s important to note that most people who think they don’t need much sleep to get by actually need just as much as any other person. While there are people who don’t need a lot of rest to function at their peak, they’re very rare.

What is adrenal fatigue?

When you’re suffering from a health issue, you might feel exhausted even when you’re getting a perfect eight hours of sleep each night. One of the most notorious health conditions that can lead to this is adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue affects your adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys and are responsible for creating important hormones like norepinephrine, adrenaline, and cortisol. Your adrenals help your body regulate its metabolism, stress levels, blood pressure, “fight or flight” response, and other mechanisms. When adrenal glands become overworked due to long periods of consistent stress and exhaustion, they can produce too little of the hormones you need to succeed.

Adrenal fatigue is characterized by symptoms like depression, lack of motivation, weight changes, hair loss, brain fog, anxiety, and, of course, sleep issues.

person with symptoms of adrenal fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue’s Impact On Sleep

When you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue, you might feel exhausted after a full night’s sleep, or you might struggle to get to sleep at all when bedtime arrives. Adrenal fatigue contributes to exhaustion, but on the other side of the coin, exhaustion and contribute to adrenal fatigue. It’s a frustrating cycle.

When the body’s sleep-wake cycle changes, your cortisol levels may also change, and it can take time for them to readjust. (This is why working frequently changing shifts can be rough on your body.) Cortisol levels are also a big contributor to adrenal fatigue.

Cortisol helps keep your blood sugar levels maintained. Since your cortisol levels can dip when you have adrenal fatigue, your adrenal hormone levels can become lower, and that can translate to low blood sugar. Low blood sugar, in turn, can disrupt your sleep because it signals to your body that it’s time to wake up and replenish that blood sugar.

Sleep Tips For Better Rest And Adrenal Health

While healing your adrenal fatigue, you can also focus on healing your sleep. These two issues compound upon each other, so finding relief from one can also help lead to relief from the other. Below are a few sleep tips to try.

• Try keeping a sleep diary

sleep diary for adrenal fatigue

This can help you find patterns and notice when you have the most difficulty getting the sleep you need. It might also show you that you get significantly more or less sleep than you initially might have thought, which can help you find better solutions. Record how much you sleep every night, and when you feel most alert and most tired. You can even show this diary to your doctor so they can better help you resolve the issue.

• Do a digital detox

digital detox for adrenal health

One hour before bed, shut down your glowing screens and other digital devices to unwind. Those glowing lights can disrupt your brain’s sleep tendencies, and reading phones and laptops at night can lead to a wired mind. Even better if you can charge the devices in a separate room from where you sleep so they don’t disrupt your snoozing and are not the first thing you see when you wake up each morning.

• Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day

Alarm clock to help with adrenal fatigue

Try to have a set bedtime and a wake-up time that work for you. Even on the weekends, you’ll want to try to stick to these same times – it will likely lead to much better health benefits than sleeping in on Saturdays and Sundays.

Practice yoga

yoga for adrenal fatigue

Yoga has the double benefit of reducing stress in your life, thus reducing the chance you’ll be awake with racing thoughts, and slowing down your mind for sleep. Slow, gentle yoga is a great way to clear your mind and prepare your body for rest. It also helps your body to unwind before bed.

• Add herbs and supplements into your routine

supplements for adrenal fatigue

An evening chamomile tea routine is one way to dive into this, but you can also start taking supplements that might help you sleep better. Melatonin can help your body sleep at night. Ashwagandha or magnesium can help you feel less stressed and relax.

• Try adrenal-friendly foods

healthy food for adrenal fatigue

Introducing foods into your diet that will boost your adrenals’ healing process might help you sleep better as well. See if you find any positive results from eating leafy greens, healthy fats, organ meats, and anti-inflammatory foods like wild-caught salmon.

Better Sleep Equals Better Adrenals

Adrenal fatigue can be as emotionally draining as it is physically. Keep the faith and be patient as you reset your sleep routine. You will feel rested again one day – it’s only a matter of time, determination, and patience.