Problems sleeping? Read this.
I’m not sure if you know this about me, but before becoming a nutritionist, I spent 6+ years working in the corporate world. I worked some pretty high pace and high pressure roles. Throughout that time I was ALSO really sick (which you can read more about here).
Combine the two and it was a bit of a perfect storm stress wise and I almost always woke up in that 2-4am time frame for a good hour or so. Pre nutrition school, I literally never even thought twice about it meaning anything, other than it being super frustrating. I mean, by the time I got back to sleep, it felt like the alarm was going off MINUTES later.
You can imagine I was surprised to learn that waking up in the middle of the night was NOT normal and was a sign that something was off.
Nine times out of ten, it’s a sign that your adrenal glands - two little glands that sit on top of your kidneys - are fatigued, or have been in overdrive for quite some time.
How your adrenals affect your sleep:
As I mentioned, your adrenal glands are responsible for producing cortisol, a stress hormone. In a perfect world, your cortisol is highest in the morning when you wake up (so that you wake up feeling good!) and then it slowly decreases over time (so that when it’s time to go to bed, you fall asleep relatively easily and stay asleep).
What happens, is if you go through a period of chronic stress, or you don’t manage your blood sugar properly, or you push too hard for a long period of time, your cortisol can become out of balance. Typically it first becomes elevated, then after a while of being elevated, becomes too low. Keep in mind, this doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it takes months or years of this to become out of balance.
When cortisol does become out of balance, here are a few things that can happen:
- You have problems falling asleep or staying asleep, or you wake up too early
- You put on weight when nothing changes with your diet or exercise
- You start to get the flu or a cold more often
- Your energy is LOW - you’re tired and craving sweets to get our energy back up
- You have problems concentrating or feel foggy/fuzzy headed
- Your start to get other hormonal symptoms (irregular periods, worse PMS, thyroid disorders)
- And the list goes on!
What can you do?
I dive into this a lot in my webinars but there are some other basic things you can start with right off the bat:
- Start taking a B complex with methylated folate
- Practice a really strict bedtime routine - no cell phone an hour before bed and go to bed at the same time every night
- Work with adaptogenic herbs. There are many, and this is individual to the person.
- Practice calming exercise. Rather than kill yourself at the gym daily (if you do that), use calming exercise like yoga, walking or a shorter duration of intense workouts. The reason for this is very intense workouts (in combination with a lot of other stress) can throw off your cortisol if not done properly.
- Start taking magnesium bisglycinate. Start with 200mg and work your way up (you will know you've hit too much if it causes loose stools).