8 Healthy Habits to Better Manage Adrenal Fatigue

good adrenal habits

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 ‘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.

Struggle with fatigue? Look for underlying causes

311 always tired

Do you feel like you’re tired all the time and depend on caffeine to function? Do you feel you always need extra sleep and never feel rested? Feeling tired all the time is a symptom of a larger problem, and a cue from your body you need to address an underlying health issue. A variety of factors can cause you to feel tired, however clinically we see some common ones pop up over and over.

Common causes of constant fatigue

Low thyroid activity. If you’re experiencing constant fatigue it’s important to rule out hypothyroidism, a condition of low thyroid activity that causes fatigue and many other symptoms. More than 90 percent of hypothyroid cases in the United States are caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s, in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s can be identified by positive TPO and TGB antibodies and should be addressed by managing the immune system, although thyroid hormone medication may still be necessary. Low thyroid activity can also be a result of other things, such as chronic stress or excess estrogen. Testing for TSH alone is not enough to assess a thyroid condition. For more information, read the book Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? by Datis Kharrazian, and ask my office how we can help you manage low thyroid activity.

Blood sugar imbalance. Blood sugar imbalances are largely overlooked yet are a common cause of fatigue. Many people struggle with low blood sugar, high blood sugar (insulin resistance), or a combination of both. People with low blood sugar frequently skip meals, eat too little, or consume excess sweets and processed carbohydrates that cause blood sugar to spike and then plummet. When blood sugar is low people experience fatigue, lightheadedness, shakiness, feeling spaced-out and other symptoms.

Consuming excess sweets and processed carbohydrates and overeating may also lead to high blood sugar, or insulin resistance. People with insulin resistance often have difficulty falling asleep or sleeping well and frequently feel fatigue as a result. They also feel tired after meals, particularly meals high in carbohydrates.

When struggling with fatigue, you should always evaluate your diet and eat foods that keep blood sugar stable, and eat frequently enough to prevent blood sugar from dropping too low.

Anemia. There are many kinds of anemia, but iron-deficiency anemia is the most common. The body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a part of blood cells that carries oxygen. Low iron deprives the body of oxygen and hence energy, causing fatigue. A common cause of iron-deficiency anemia is poor nutrient absorption due to undiagnosed celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, so gluten intolerance should be ruled out in cases of anemia. Other common causes of anemia are B12 deficiency, inflammation, or an autoimmune disease. It’s important to know which form of anemia is causing your fatigue as supplementing with iron when you don’t need it may cause toxic levels of iron. Although the body needs iron to function, in excess it is damaging.

Adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands sit atop each kidney and secrete adrenal hormones to help us respond to stress. Many people suffer from adrenal fatigue, a condition in which the adrenal glands produce insufficient stress hormones. Common symptoms are constant fatigue, low blood sugar, and low blood pressure. Poor adrenal function is always secondary to something else, such as chronic inflammation or poor diet. To support your adrenal health to combat fatigue, it’s important to find out what is stressing your body.

These are just a few causes of fatigue. Fatigue can be a sign of many different health disorders. Other things to consider are food intolerances, gut inflammation, hormonal imbalances, brain chemistry imbalances, dehydration, and of course lack of sleep.

Ask my office how we can help you manage fatigue.