Do you always feel tired in the afternoon, wake up groggy, or feel flattened by exercise? You might suffer from a common condition called adrenal fatigue, in which the body can't respond properly to life's stresses. Some other signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Insomnia, especially between 2 and 4 a.m.
- The afternoon â€˜blahs'
- Cravings for salt, sugar or stimulants, especially in the afternoon
- Lightheadedness upon standing
- Chronic low blood pressure
- Irritability and jitters when hungry
Thankfully, certain lifestyle habits are highly effective in helping restore your energy and healthy adrenal function.
8 lifestyle habits to manage adrenal fatigue
Below are eight lifestyle habits that can go a long way in supporting adrenal health.
1. Sleep. Regular, plentiful sleep is one of the best supporters of adrenal health. Even if you experience midnight insomnia or trouble falling asleep, it's possible to create better sleep by sticking to these good habits:
- Go to bed at the same time every night, no later than 10 p.m.
- Try to get 9-11 hours of sleep every night; do it on weekends if it's not possible on weekdays.
- Avoid computer, TV, and phone screens for the hour before bed; this allows the brain waves to shift gears in preparation for sleep. (If that's impossible wear orange glasses that block the blue lights these screens emits. Blue light suppresses sleep hormones and can cause insomnia and a disrupted sleep cycle.)
- Eat a small snack just before bed that is strong in protein and healthy fat and low in carbs.
- Avoid sugar, stimulants, and high-carb foods before bed.
2. Relaxation Exercises. Think relaxation exercises are ineffective? Think again! Create at least ten minutes of quiet, stress-relieving activity for yourself every day, such as lying with your feet up, meditating, or breathing slowly. In addition, when you feel tired, respect the message your body is trying to send, and lay down for a few minutes.
3. Avoid junk food and excess sugar. Whether donuts or fruit, junk foods and excess sugar put the adrenal glands in overdrive, effectively sending them into energetic bankruptcy.
4. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants. Yes, that means coffee. Stimulants are one of your adrenals' worst enemies! Like sugars, they drive the adrenals to work too hard, driving you into deeper exhaustion.
5. Gentle exercise only. With adrenal fatigue, prolonged, rigorous exercise will only drive you deeper into exhaustion. Try gentle exercise such as walking, yoga, or swimming. No matter what, avoid prolonged aerobic exercise. Caution: If you are exhausted after your workout, you overdid it.
6. Eat a breakfast strong in protein and fat, with no sugar or stimulants. Adrenal function, blood sugar, and energy levels are closely related. Eating a breakfast strong in protein and fat while avoiding sugars and stimulants allows the adrenals to get a strong start and remain steadier throughout the day. This can help you avoid the afternoon blahs and sleep better, too!
7. Take the stress out. Take a close look at what causes you stress, whether complaining friends, nagging bosses, or a crazy schedule. What stressors can you eliminate or minimize? Reducing stress is a huge factor in adrenal healing.
8. Avoid sugars and stimulants when you're tired. When you hit the afternoon blahs, the first thing you might think of is a frothy cappuccino. However, that only serves to further bankrupt your adrenals. Instead, nourish your body with protein, healthy fats, and minimal carbs to support healthy blood sugar and brain function, which is what you really need to kick the blahs. Be prepared by having a healthy snack ready to go for the afternoon.
The bigger picture
Adrenal fatigue typically happens secondary to another issue, such as anemia, poor diet, hormone imbalance, autoimmune disease, inflammation, or micronutrient deficiencies. It's important to determine the cause of your adrenal fatigue and include these lifestyle habits as part of your adrenal treatment plan — with them, you will move much faster toward optimum health and energy.