Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome
By Abby Huot
Is it Really Just “That 2 O’clock Feeling” or Something More Serious?
There are a hundred products out there that claim they’re going to give you boundless energy, intense focus, and magically cure daytime fatigue. Stimulant pills, high-powered coffees, and shot-sized energy drinks are extremely common (and increasingly popular) in terms of market demand these days. Some of them do just what they claim, others might leave you feeling a little queasy and with a horrific “crash” feeling after a short period of time. While these products are helpful for a quick boost before a workout, what does it mean if you perpetually have that now infamous “2 o’clock feeling” that you see advertised on TV?
I watched my own boyfriend struggle with low energy and poor sleep for months before he consulted a doctor. He finally sought professional advice when it got to the point that he needed anywhere from three to five different energy supplements a day in order to function in any capacity. Yikes!
Sound like you? If so, it may be time to take a look at yourself and assess a few things: How is your stress level? How much sleep are you getting? If your answers are “My stress level is so high, I might burst into flames soon” and “I squeeze in 5 or 6 hours of sleep when I can”, you could very well be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome.
What is Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome?
To put it plainly, most people have completely nuked their adrenal glands from a combination of sleep deprivation and excessive stress (whether it be from work, finances, or personal issues). If you’re an athlete or competitor, you could be adding an addition leg to this: physical fatigue from training with inadequate rest. Your adrenal glands an extremely important part of the endocrine system, responsible for the release of hormone regulation and giving you boosts of energy when you need it (for instance, the natural rush of adrenaline pumped into the bloodstream when encountered with a dangerous situation). When taxed with no end, overworked adrenals glands result in the excessive production of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress (which often results in weight gain), and DHEA, a naturally occurring steroid in the body. What does this mean for you? You’re feeling dead on your feet, sluggish, and run down because your body’s tank is on “empty.” Your body is running on fumes and is about to break down!
Adrenal fatigue completely inhibits your ability to sleep soundly, lose weight/fat, and usually makes most people utterly reliant on on energy drinks and various forms of stimulants. The more you use the, the more you need them to function at your current pace.
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome
-Inability to fall asleep/stay asleep
-Getting your “second wind” of the day later in the evening (6PM or later)
-Excessive morning grogginess
-Difficulty losing weight (inhibited digestive system)
-Excessive use of stimulants (energy drinks, coffee)
-Compromised immune system (lowered ability to fight infection)
-Sluggishness and inability to concentrate during the day
-In extreme cases, inability to stay awake for more than a few hours during the day and depression
If so, it might be time for a screening. I recommend visiting Dr. James L. Wilson’s website www.adrenalfatigue.org and taking the Adrenal Fatigue Questionnaire. There you will find a rating-scale based test to see how susceptible or likely you are to be suffering from the condition based on your past and current life circumstances.
How can one avoid Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome?
Experts recommend following these simple guidelines:
-Eat numerous meals regularly that contain clean carbs, protein, and fats.
-Stay hydrated (one of the first symptoms of dehydration is sleepiness and it’s common for people to head straight for the coffee pot at work, which keeps the cycle of dehydration going)
-Salt your food lightly (sea salt is recommended) for fluid regulation.
-Eat foods high on the alkaline scale.
-Flip off the TV and go to bed 1-2 hours earlier.
-Manage your stress through regular exercise and meditation.
-For more serious cases, seek help with a medical profession and work out a supplementation and workout regimen that fits your personal needs and lifestyle.
Remember, stimulants are great for on-the-go energy but were never designed to replace the body’s need for sleep, rest, and proper nutrition. So if you can—kick the habit! None of these products will ever do you the same justice as taking the time to take care of your body’s natural needs to recharge and reboot.
Abby Huot is a 35 year old figure and bikini competitor from Minneapolis, MN. She is a freelance fitness writer and model and has been competing since the fall of 2008. Abby’s transformation story began in 2005 when she weighed her heaviest (190 lbs). She did her first competition in 2008 and dropped to 130 lb and has done a total of 10 competitions since she started. Abby feels it is her mission in life to educate women on proper nutrition and exercise while embracing their curves and differences in their physiques and remaining a true, grounded individual.