Stress causes a boost in adrenal hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that increase alertness, making it more difficult to relax into a deep sleep – especially when they remain high or rise and fall intermittently through the night. Frequent or persistent stress can chronically raise these hormone levels, resulting in a constant hyper-vigilant state that interferes with restful sleep. If stress is the reason why you are not sleeping well, any relaxation technique before bedtimes such as breathing exercise, yoga, or qi-gong can help improve sleep. Cognitive therapy and compassion focus therapy have also been found to be helpful.
In addition to stress, another common reason for sleep disruption is a poor adrenal function. Cortisol plays a vital role in regulating glucose levels. Usually, blood glucose is low by early morning, but when you have adrenal fatigue, cortisol levels during the night may not be enough to be able to sustain the right levels of blood glucose. Consequently, low glucose signals the body that is time to wake up and refuel. Glucose is the main fuel for all cells in your body. If your blood glucose levels drop very low (usually below 20 mg/dL), you can become confused, drowsy or even lose consciousness and possibly die. This is the reason why as your blood sugar drops while you sleep your body feels the need to wake you up (is a protection mechanism).
If you find yourself waking up between 1 AM and 3 AM this may be an indication that low blood sugar is the reason of your sleep disturbance. This is also the often the case when panic or anxiety attacks, nightmares, or fitful, restless sleep occur between 1 and 4 AM.
If you feel adrenal dysfunction and low blood sugar are the cause of your sleep disturbances supporting healthy adrenal function and dealing with adrenal fatigue may resolve your sleep issues. In the meantime, the following can help you improve your sleep as you work on improving adrenal function:
5. Avoid caffeine. This is not limited to coffee, it includes chocolate, teas and any other beverage that contains caffeine. They can disrupt sleep even if they are consumed early in the day.
at night. Exercise raises cortisol levels so exercising late in the evening may help improve your sleep
8. Take sleep supplements. Certain supplements are known to help induce sleep:
valerian, passion flower, chamomile, wood betony, lavender, etc. The herb Ashwagandha even though is not a sedative it normalizes cortisol and sex hormone levels in the body. Therefore, it may help reduce sleep disturbances.
Chronic lack of sleep is now considered a health risk and has been associated with several possible health conditions. These include but are not limited to:
These are in addition to the irritability, low tolerance to stress and decreased alertness and concentration that most people experience when missing an excessive amount of sleep.
I know is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you are lacking sleep. My hope you find in this blog a possible solution for you or a love one.
Until next week,
Dr. Toni is a Best-selling author, Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP) & Registered Herbalist in San Diego, California. She holds a PhD in psychology, and a Clinical Herbalist Certificate, an HHP certificate and is a Certified Trainer in the Success Principles. In private practice as a HHP for over 14 years, she has been influenced by a variety of clinical modalities and orientations, and by the diverse life experiences of her clients. Toni’s approach to healing is holistic & transpersonal. In her work, she integrates the principles of Eastern and Western nutrition, herbololgy, energy medicine, Buddhist mindfulness and personal counseling to assist others in working through their physical or emotional blocks to attain optimal health.