Both stress and adrenal function affect sleep in many ways therefore adrenal fatigue, sleep and cortisol secretion are closely linked. In this blog I’d like to clarify and explain how they influence each other as I get quite a few questions from my clients about it.
To start with, a lack of sleep itself is often a significant factor contributing to adrenal fatigue. Chronic exposure to stress requires the adrenals to produce more cortisol than normal to neutralise stress, and long-term excessive production of cortisol will lead to adrenal fatigue.
Cortisol, the stress hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, normally rises and falls throughout the 24-hour daily cycle. Typically, the cortisol level is highest in the morning at around 8:00 a.m. and lowest between midnight and 4:00 a.m. If the night time levels are either too high or too low they can interrupt sleep in many ways.
A saliva cortisol test of four samples taken throughout the day and evening will help determine if either high or low cortisol may be interfering with your sleep. If cortisol is a likely cause of sleep problems, its levels will be significantly higher or lower (depending on the stage of adrenal depletion) than normal for those times.
Along with cortisol, the adrenal glands also secrete the hormone adrenaline when you are under stress. Together, adrenaline and cortisol increase your alertness, making it more difficult to relax into sound sleep – especially when the hormone levels remain high or rise and fall irregularly through the night.
Frequent or constant stress can chronically elevate these hormones, resulting in a hyper-vigilant state incompatible with restful sleep. Every time the wake/sleep cycle is altered, it takes several days or weeks for the body and cortisol levels to adjust back to normal.
To remedy this and improve all aspects of sleep, choose daily activities that reduce stress and enhance your ability to better handle stress. These include supportive nutrition, regular relaxation, breathing and/or meditation techniques, exercise and stress-relieving life modifications.
Your daily routines – what and when you eat and drink, the medications you take, how you schedule your days, and how you choose to spend your evenings – can significantly impact your quality of sleep. Even a few slight adjustments can, in some cases, mean the difference between sound sleep and a restless night.
Interestingly, according to the National Sleep Foundation, women are two times more likely to have insomnia than men. Experts speculate that the reason may be linked to women’s hormonal system function and imbalances. Sleepless nights and daytime sleepiness have been linked with hormonal changes in a women’s life, including pregnancy, menopause, and the menstrual cycle.
Sleep problems are a common complaint for women experiencing menopause, when hormone levels are erratic. Menopausal symptoms are related to the adrenal dysfunction as the adrenals take over the role of hormone production from the ovaries. That is why it is so very important to address adrenal fatigue before menopause, to lessen or eliminate the typical symptoms such as hot flushes, irritability, sleep problems, and brain fog, among others.
Importance of having a daily sleep routine in adrenal fatigue
A sleep routine is a set of daily activities and bedtime habits and rituals you can do every day to improve your sleep quality and duration, such as having set times for waking up, eating meals, and getting to bed. These activities calm the nervous system, the adrenals and other systems, so the body starts to follow natural rhythms and retune its internal clock.
Following these routines sends the signal of safety, calmness and relaxation to the body. Aim to follow your routine every day, rather than trying to adhere to a rigid structure. Here’s my morning-to-evening Sleep Promoting Checklist I recommend to my clients who experience sleep problems, especially related to adrenal fatigue.
Sleeping better is such a key part of adrenal fatigue recovery that I was compelled to research and write a step-by-step blueprint to provide you with the tools to sleep better, starting tonight. The above Sleep Promoting Checklist is an excerpt from my guide Sleep Better Tonight: How to get a good night’s sleep – a step-by-step blueprint for all struggling with insomnia, fatigue, chronic tiredness or adrenal fatigue.
In summary, I utilise the following three keys to restore sleep that are outlined in the blueprint:
- Key #1: Nutrition for better sleep
- Key #2: Sleep patterns reset
- Key #3: Sleep-promoting nutrients
Your benefits of applying the 3 Keys will include:
- Sounder and uninterrupted sleep, feeling rested and relaxed
- Increased energy and vitality, feeling refreshed and invigorated
- Clearer thinking, feeling calmer and less stressed
- 10+ best foods that really help with sleeping longer and deeper, including foods containing sleep inducing melatonin and serotonin, plus recipes
- Top 4 most effective sleep-promoting nutrients (minerals and other natural compounds) that you can get over the counter, including their food sources and dose guidelines
- Top 6 vital nutrition tips to ensure you sleep better and longer
- Top 5 bedtime snack suggestions to balance your blood sugar levels
- A step-by-step sleep patterns reset methods and vital tips
- Adrenal fatigue and sleep dysfunction links and health impact, and what to do about it
Sleep Better Tonight eBook download
Do you have tested tips to getting a better night’s sleep. Please share your comments and tips with us in the comments section below!
In conclusion, being aware and optimising the adrenal fatigue, sleep and cortisol components of any adrenal dysfunction treatment is the key to move forward towards a lasting recovery.
Good health and blessings
Adrenal Fatigue and Digestive Health Expert
Naturopath || Herbalist || Nutritionist || Reiki Practitioner