Whole Life Magazine

February/March 2014

Issue link: http://digital.copcomm.com/i/253816

Contents of this Issue


Page 25 of 43

It's 2 a.m. and you're lying in bed. Sud- denly your partner, happily snoring just moments earlier, slides a warm hand under the sheets. As the fi n- gers inch closer you groan and turn away. "Sleep," you mumble, "I need it now." Your partner rolls over and drops back into dream- land, as you angst silently and wait for sunrise. If a quiet evening with your mate elicits more desire for sleep than visions of champagne, music and erotica, you're not alone. A pattern of lonely hours staring at the ceiling as you wait for an ex- hausted tomorrow could dim anyone's sex drive and induce not just fatigue, but also a bit of sadness. In my own decades-long fi ght to stay asleep in the middle of the night (or not wake up too early), I've ranked sleep over sex enough times for my patient-but-disappointed husband to feel the eff ects. And while sleep deprivation has never killed anyone direct- ly, it is a signifi cant health risk and a heinous form of torture. Sleep and sex are both primal needs, yet unlike sex, sleep is triggered by a built-in 24-hour circadian rhythm along with what's known as a sleep/wake homeostasis. It resets our emotional and psychological balance, thus rejuvenating our nervous, immune, skeletal and muscular systems. In our nonstop, over-stimulated culture, however, we've sadly convinced ourselves that sleep short- age is not only the American way, but also a celebrated sign of be- ing productive. Not the Usual Suspect e list of underlying causes of sleep-onset insomnia (falling asleep) and sleep-maintenance insomnia (staying asleep) runs pages. And yet there's a surprisingly common, o en undiagnosed culprit keep- ing thousands of people awake at night: Adrenal fatigue can leave you "tired but wired," one of the jittery walking dead—bone-tired but unable to sleep. If you've crossed the usual sleep saboteurs off your list, it's possible your adrenals, two glands no bigger than a walnut on top of each kidney, are screaming to be heard. "Stress and adrenal function aff ect sleep, particularly the circa- dian pattern of cortisol secretion by the adrenal glands," writes Dr. James Wilson, author of Adrenal Fatigue: e 21st Century Stress Problem. "Frequent or constant stress can chronically elevate these hormone levels, resulting in a hyper-vigilant state incompatible with restful sleep." In other words, the stress that may be keeping your brain spinning can also disrupt proper physical functioning. e adrenal glands are involved in a complex feedback loop of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) in the brain, and function kind of like stress shock absorbers. e outer adrenal cor- tex secretes the adrenal steroids cortisol, DHEA and aldosterone; and the interior secretes epinephrine (adrenalin) and norepi- nephrine, more familiar as the "fi ght-or-fl ight" hormones. Adrenaline increases the heart rate and blood pressure, and boosts energy supplies; and cortisol, which helps maintain ho- meostasis and regulate glucose and metabolism, among other critical functions, is designed to decrease as we go through the day. Adrenal Fatigue Chronic stress, even the good kind of stress that makes you feel energized and excited (skydiving, new job, running a mara- thon) keeps cortisol levels elevated, including at bedtime when cortisol is programmed to drop (circadian rhythm), at least until about midnight. If your cortisol stays high long enough, you move into stage one adrenal fatigue, explains chiroprac- tor Daniel Kalish, founder of a proprietary model of Function- al Medicine that he teaches worldwide. If you don't recharge, chronically high cortisol moves you into stage two. " ink of cortisol like units of energy," explains Dr. Kalish. "When you wake up you should have about 20 unites of energy. At bedtime, your level should be about two. e normal cortisol drop creates a feeling of a 'normal' day that ends restfully. But many are waking up with reduced cortisol levels, which trans- lates to feeling exhausted despite having just slept. And many are going to bed with dramatically elevated cortisol levels, making it virtually impossible to shut down your brain and fall asleep." In stage one adrenal fatigue you might feel slightly sluggish in the morning and mid-a ernoon, but it's not until stage two that cortisol levels begin to fail (meaning cortisol's natural ebb and fl ow rhythm is off ) and you notice symptoms. Stage two is By Laura Owens Too Wired to Want It Sleep, Sex and adrenals your 26 wholelifetimesmagazine.com WLT-FEB-MAR-1-30.indd 26 1/30/14 1:10 AM

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Whole Life Magazine - February/March 2014