Over the holidays I had quite a few more clients than usual contact me about their health. Most complaints were due to the sudden onset of severe dizziness and lightheadedness, fatigue and insomnia.
I recognized these symptoms as the result of what I call “holiday overload”….during a time when the increased dark and lower temperatures call for hibernation, humans instead gear up with increased activity: merrymaking, rich food and excess alcohol. This behaviour depletes adrenal health in those that are susceptible. I think it was all made worse this year because the holidays were preceded by the acrimonious election season which created unprecedented stress among most Americans.
Read about how excess stress affects this very important gland and what you can do to protect its health and stay robust.
The adrenals are small pea-shaped glands that sit on top of our kidneys. They are a command center for our endocrine system, which regulates metabolism, digestion, growth and development, brain function and mood.
They secrete adrenaline, cortisol and other hormones that regulate the stress response, blood pressure and water balance. Low adrenal hormone levels, caused from excessive long-term stress, can create many symptoms, including:
- Waking up tired
- General exhaustion
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Feeling “wired but tired”
- Lack of focus
- Craving sugar
- Salt cravings
- Feeling overwhelmed by life
- Having low or no sex drive
- Stubborn belly fat
- Feeling achy and “inflamed” all over
- Have trouble falling/staying asleep even though you are exhausted
- Experiencing erratic periods or severe PMS
The adrenal glands have a circadian rhythm that regulates our sleep and wake cycle. Highest cortisol production occurs between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. and is at its lowest between midnight and 2 a.m.
An accurate way to measure cortisol is by saliva testing using the Adrenal Stress Index ( ASI) . Samples are collected fo