Does Adrenal Fatigue Cause Insomnia?

woman yawning researching on computer does adrenal fatigue cause insomnia

Does Adrenal Fatigue Cause Insomnia?

I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep! 

If you’ve ever found yourself bemoaning your inability to sleep in the middle of the night, you know how frustrating this problem can be. You’re tired and exhausted, yet your body refuses to fall asleep. All you can think about is the continued problems your lack of sleep will cause the next day – energy levels, mental focus, mood swings, etc. 

When our bodies are aligned, we will get regular, healthy sleep. When we are not getting regular sleep, there is something wrong. 

Sleep disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, but a common question we hear regarding this issue is “Does adrenal fatigue cause insomnia?”

What is Adrenal Fatigue

Let’s first take a look at adrenal fatigue. The term adrenal fatigue is not readily used in medical circles because it’s actually not a “fatigue” of the adrenal glands. It’s simply a misfiring of signals. This condition is more scientifically referred to as HPA axis dysregulation. That’s a mouthful, so for the ease of our writing and your reading, we’ll just stick with adrenal fatigue!  

The Role of Cortisol in Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is a condition in which your adrenal glands are not producing the right amount of hormones, noticeably the stress hormone cortisol, because the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis is not firing correctly. 

Cortisol has been given a bad rap in the past few decades, as it is most commonly known as the stress hormone that causes weight gain. But cortisol, when balanced, plays an important role in our health. It regulates our daily circadian rhythm. Our bodies produce cortisol on a 24-hour cycle, signaling wake time and sleep time so we naturally receive the rest we need each night and consequently the energy we need to get through each day. 

Cortisol production reaches its peak mid-morning, around 10 AM, and then tapers off to its lowest point around 10 PM. In a healthy individual, this allows for a balanced sleep and wake cycle. 

Adrenal Fatigue and Insomnia

Unfortunately, some can suffer from a disruption of this cortisol hormone, resulting in a disruption of the circadian cycle. This disruption is often a result of chronic stress in one’s life, due to high-pressure work environments, relational issues, poor diet, trauma or more. This chronic stress keeps the adrenal glands on constant alert, producing cortisol too often and too much. This causes the entire circadian production of cortisol to end up confused and fatigued, leading to wakeful hours at night and non-existent energy during the day. 

So does adrenal fatigue cause insomnia? Well, yes. But what causes adrenal fatigue? Is it the adrenal glands? Is it the HPA axis? Is it the stress? 

Yes! As we say often here at Five Journeys, there is very rarely one issue, one cause, and one treatment. The intricacy of the body’s systems play out in a complex puzzle that one must carefully piece together in order to find true healing and vitality. 

Treatment for Insomnia from Adrenal Fatigue

So how can you treat your adrenal fatigue and insomnia? 

First things first…see a functional medicine practitioner! It doesn’t even have to be us (although we’re pretty awesome at this, so why not?!), but we do suggest seeking help from someone that will look at the entire picture of your health and not just stick you on hormone medication to be done with it. While medication may be necessary in some instances, it’s imperative that you and your doctor work together to actually heal the issue at the source. 

Here are a few other things you can do to help with insomnia while you’re striving to fix your adrenal issues: 

  • Eliminate cortisol-triggering foods, such as bad fats, sugars, alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, processed carbs, and conventional animal products. 
  • Take supplements – fish oil, maca root, vitamin B, vitamin C and others (get tested to know what you need!)
  • Exercise daily, but at moderate intensity
  • Meditate and practice breathing exercises
  • Reframe your negative thoughts with positive, productive thoughts
  • Go to therapy – sometimes the most stress-relieving thing is to talk to someone that has no agenda and no connection with your stress

Sleeping tips for Insomnia

  • Go to bed at the same time every night
  • Don’t look at a screen for at least an hour before you wish to sleep
  • Keep your room cool and dark
  • Don’t drink anything too closely to bed time
  • Try calming essential oils such as lavender, chamomile and marjoram
  • Meditate right before bed, practicing mindfulness and acceptance

Help for Insomnia and Adrenal Fatigue

At Five Journeys, we deal with hundreds of individuals that are literally “about to lose their mind” due to a lack of sleep and compounding problems. We know how debilitating this can be. But there is hope! We’ve also helped those same individuals identify the underlying cause (or causes) and map out a plan to complete healing and recovery. 

If you’re suffering from insomnia and other sleep-related disorders, talk to us today!

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