For most people, tiredness and stress are part and parcel of modern day life. They don’t require a visit to the doctor’s office… or do they? It’s a sad fact that many people struggle with adrenal exhaustion for years before finally waking up to the realization that being tired all the time may actually be a real health problem. So how do you know when enough is enough?
Here are 6 sure-fire ways to know when it’s time to sit up and start taking stock of your health issues. Is it time to pay your adrenals some well-earned attention?
1. Mornings are unbearable
Without stating the obvious, one of the major symptoms of adrenal fatigue is tiredness. I’m not talking about the ‘whacked out’ feeling you get after a two hour workout or a busy day. When you have adrenal fatigue, mornings are the time it hits you hardest. This is because adrenal exhaustion turns your cortisol cycle into a confused, dysregulated mess. Instead of experiencing reduced levels at night, cortisol actually spikes, meaning that you can’t wind down and you end up having a lousy sleep. Disruption of the regular hormone production cycle could be the reason for your foggy morning brain, and your lack of energy to face the day.
2. Your weight is becoming an issue
Are you someone who never used to worry about your weight, but lately you’re finding it hard to keep off the pounds? Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep consume up to 22% more calories than they would if they’d had adequate rest. This is because sleep deprivation leads to increased levels of ghrelin (the hormone that tells your body to eat). Combine this with the fact that your lowered aldosterone levels are probably sending your taste buds into a salt-craving frenzy. It’s no surprise that you’re reaching for snacks like chips or that carton of salted popcorn. If weight and cravings are becoming an issue for you, it may be time to seek help.
3. Your relationships are suffering
Adrenal fatigue is YOUR problem right? Wrong. The symptoms, when severe, can influence everything from having the energy to meet your friends on time, to not being able to function at work. Because the adrenals are also partly responsible for the production of sex hormones such as DHEA and DHEA-S, symptoms of adrenal exhaustion can include low libido and a reduced sex drive. If you don’t feel like socialising or lack the enthusiasm to relax in the bedroom, it may be a warning that you need to address your adrenal issues.
4. You rely on caffeine kicks to get you through the day
Let’s face it, the world doesn’t stop turning just because you have adrenal fatigue. When there are chores to be done, meetings to attend, and kids to collect, caffeine can seem like an easy solution to give you the energy boost you need to get through the day. Despite providing a temporary lift, caffeine and energy drinks could actually be contributing to your symptoms. Caffeinated drinks overstimulate the adrenal glands causing them to work even harder. Too much caffeine during the day can also stack up problems in the evening when you need to get some shut eye. So if you find yourself increasingly relying on caffeine for energy, it may be time to give your adrenals a little TLC.
5. You get overwhelmed by everyday tasks
When you’re coping with adrenal exhaustion, your body isn’t in the best shape to handle the everyday tasks most people take for granted. After long periods of stress, we lose the ability to produce sufficient hormones like adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol in sufficient amounts. These are the hormones you rely on when you need the energy to get through a demanding day.
An imbalance of these stress hormones, sprinkled with a touch of sleep deprivation, creates a vicious cycle it can be hard to escape from. If you find everyday chores like shopping just too much to handle and are easily overwhelmed, it’s time to take stock of your health issues and make your wellbeing a top priority.
6. You constantly get sick
How many sick days have you taken so far this year? Adrenal exhaustion is a monster that takes many forms, and because one of the major issues is a compromised immune system, you may feel like you spend all of your time fighting off illness.
Once again this is partly due to cortisol, which when perfectly balanced has an anti-inflammatory effect, helping your immune system to fight off infections. However, when cortisol levels remain consistently high, (as it can for many people with early stage adrenal fatigue) your immune system simply can’t keep up the pace. This leaves you wide open to all sorts of bugs, illnesses and infections, and allows the cycle of stress and depletion to continue unabated. If you’re sick of being sick, it really is time to get down to the root cause of your poor immunity.