Have you ever gone to sleep early at night yet woke up the next morning feeling totally exhausted? More often than not, you are irritable, fatigued, and feel that all is not right with the world.
If you are still tired after sleeping, the problem may be due to Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), and there could be a number of reasons why.
Reasons Why You are Still Tired after Sleeping
In AFS, the body is unable to produce hormones to help the body deal with stress. As a result, unproductive sleep and other symptoms can result. Without adequate sleep, your body is not able to regenerate itself. Not only do you rest while sleeping, it is also the time when your body cleanses itself of metabolites. Even though the different organs in your body do not stop working when you are asleep, it is still the time when they rest. A sound rest during the night leaves one feeling refreshed and energized. When you find this is not the case, it means that something is happening and you need to address it.
If you are still tired after sleeping, it means that your body has not gotten the kind of deep sleep that it needs. This is usually the result of your internal organs having to work overtime in order to get rid of the toxic buildup in your system. This puts a lot of pressure on the adrenal glands, and if they become stressed, it could lead to what is termed “adrenal exhaustion.”
The AFS-Sleep Link
Both stress and adrenal dysfunction can leave you still tired after sleeping by interrupting your sleeping pattern. Cortisol, produced by the adrenal glands, goes through a 24-hour cycle. Cortisol reaches its highest level at about 8 am in the morning, and its lowest level between 12 am and 4 am in the morning.
When stressed out, there is a huge surge in the production of cortisol and adrenaline, both of which are produced by the adrenal glands. They increase your alertness levels, thereby making it difficult for your body to go into a deep sleep. If your body is under a constant state of stress, these hormonal levels are in a constant state of elevation and putting even more stress on your adrenal glands. As cortisol and adrenaline stay elevated into the night, your sleep can become disrupted, causing you to be still tired after sleeping.
As your adrenal glands are put under constant pressure, it comes to the point where it is no longer able to produce sufficient amounts of these hormones. This can result in low blood sugar levels, which are another possible cause of sleep disruptions that can lead to still tired after sleeping. Cortisol plays an extremely important role in regulating blood sugar levels in the body. Although it is quite normal to have lowered blood sugar levels in the morning, adrenal fatigue could lead to the body going into a state of hunger because these levels are too low. The result is that your sleep patterns are disrupted because your body wants you to refuel. Low blood sugar can even cause you to wake up at night.
Low levels in your blood sugar at night are also possibly due to low reserves of glycogen, which is usually found in the liver. Cortisol is responsible for breaking glycogen down into glucose (i.e. the fuel for your cells). Having low glycogen stores only compounds the issues found with adrenal fatigue, further dropping your blood sugar levels and disrupting your sleep pattern.
The NeuroEndoMetabolic Stress Response to Constant Fatigue
When under persistent stress, the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response sets in. It is the body’s way of responding to adrenal fatigue.
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) hormonal axis is the portion of the neuroendocrine system that receives, interprets and converts stress signals into chemical messages. These chemical messages take the form of hormones and neurotransmitters. The main control sensor regarding our response to stress is the adrenal glands, which manufacture cortisol in order to allow our bodies to cope with any given situation.
Once AFS reaches stage three or four, it means that the adrenals are so overworked they can no longer function properly to produce the necessary amounts of cortisol the body needs to combat the problem. The initial overproduction of cortisol (and adrenaline) causes disruptions in your sleeping pattern, as does the failure to produce enough of these two hormones once the adrenals have crashed. In these advanced stages, cortisol production is unable to increase in the morning, when it should be at its highest. This can leave you feeling tired and groggy upon waking up in the morning.
Managing the Situation
The best way to get a good night’s sleep is to look at the underlying root cause of the matter. The one and only way to combat morning tiredness with adrenal fatigue is to take back your life! This means making certain life choices and sticking to them:
When your adrenal glands are crashing, the last thing you need is a punishing exercise routine. You need rest instead, although moderate exercise does help. Exercise increases your adrenaline levels and blood circulation. That helps combat the problem, but should be followed by a period of rest. In advanced stages of adrenal fatigue, any stimulation on the body, even light exercise, can send the adrenals spiraling out of control and disrupt your sleep.
Keep Your Diet in Mind
A good diet serves to stabilize your blood sugar levels and balances the protein, carbohydrates, and fats consumed. When your adrenals have crashed, you may find your body is not functioning adequately on what is considered ‘regular’ food. In such instances, a total dietary change may be necessary for a certain period. Following a special adrenal fatigue diet, in this instance, can help. Balancing your blood sugar before sleeping with a high protein snack may also help you sleep better.
Adjust Your Supplement Intake
Taking the same amount of supplements during an adrenal crash as you would normally do could defeat the purpose. You should consult with a professional who could advise either to increase or decrease your intake of nutritional supplements depending on the stage of adrenal weakness you are in. Natural sleeping herbs, essential oils, and neurotransmitters may help calm your body down and sleep more soundly. Although a paradoxical reaction may also be possible in those who are highly sensitive.
How to Help Yourself
Besides managing your problem, there are a few things you can do to help remedy your AFS and subsequent tiredness in the morning.
Get rid of your stressors
Identify and then manage whatever is causing you undue stress. Deal with them, and then remove them, if possible, from your life and/or environment.
Although the problem may be waking up tired even after a good number of hours’ worth of sleep, this is also the time during which our body works to repair itself. One should be in bed by 10 pm, at the latest, to get the maximum benefit of this healing period.
If you have trouble sleeping, consider taking oral melatonin. Magnesium also helps remedy the situation.
Put the electronics away
Stay away from your computer or the television before bedtime.
The flickering screen of your computer or television set before bedtime prevents your body from producing sufficient melatonin. Melatonin is necessary as it induces sleep.
Caffeine is a stimulant that prevents you from falling asleep and having a good night’s rest as it causes disruptions in your sleep pattern.
Developing these healthy sleep habits and resolving the underlying root cause is essential to helping you sleep better at night and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day.
© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.