Sleep disturbances are one of the leading symptoms experienced by people with adrenal fatigue. The main cause of sleep problems is the malfunction of the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis, which is a pathway that connects the brain and the adrenal glands. The problems vary from difficulty falling asleep, disturbed sleep, being easily woken up in the night and difficulty falling back to sleep. All of these lead to tiredness in the morning and during the day, resulting in lowered productivity and life quality. My Burnout program Power deals with all the above mentions problems. You can read more about the program here.

In earlier stages of the adrenal fatigue, the main complaint people have regarding sleep is not being able to fall asleep. This happens because the daily cortisol balance is altered. Normally, the adrenal glands produce most cortisol in the morning which makes it easy for us to get out of bed and has us ready for the hours of productive work. In the evening, the cortisol is at its lowest level, letting us fall asleep. 

in the early stages of adrenal fatigue, adrenals are on over-drive, which causes sleep onset insomnia

However, in the early stages of adrenal fatigue, adrenals are on over-drive, putting out excessive cortisol throughout the day and even in the evening, which prevents us from falling asleep. Moreover, the excessive adrenaline which is also produced by the adrenals is keeping us wired – that feeling of anxiousness similar to the one that we experience after a cup of strong coffee. The combination of high cortisol and adrenaline results in what is called sleep onset insomnia (SOI).

When the adrenal fatigue progresses, the complaints around sleep also change. At this point, people are able to fall asleep in the evening, but they tend to wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to fall back asleep. This condition is called sleep maintenance insomnia (SMI) and is caused by metabolic changes that occur in the body.

Blood sugar drops lead to adrenaline release Which causes us to awaken during the night

Adrenal fatigue goes hand in hand with insulin dysregulation and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). At this point, the body is extremely sensitive to the changes in blood sugar, so even a small drop can activate the sympathetic nervous system, which leads to adrenaline release and waking up. This is often accompanied by symptoms such as heart palpitations, cold sweats, and nightmares.

Tips for your sleeping routine

To help conquer the problems associated with sleeping, try implementing the following into your sleeping routine:

  • Go to sleep no later than at 10 pm.
  • Develop a routine: get up and lie down always at approximately the same time.
  • Make sure the room you sleep in is completely dark. If this is not possible, cover your eyes with a mask.
  • Turn off all screens two hours before going to bed. If you need to use your phone or laptop, wear blue light blocking glasses.
  • Avoid stimulants such as coffee and sugar. 
  • Before lying down, have a small protein & fat snack .
  • Do relaxation exercises such as meditation or body scan in the evening.

If you feel like you need further support with improving your sleep and healing from burnout, my program Power could be right for you. Find out more about it here.