The “fight or flight” syndrome – you’ve heard of it, right?
And the image of a saber-toothed tiger dashing after a hunter, getting ready to attack – you often get into this situation, don’t you?
Of course not.
In modern times, we’re not literally in that frantic position, but are bodies are often reacting as if we were fighting for our lives.
Our adrenal glands, located on top of each kidney, are forced to work overtime in an effort to deal with stress from all sources: injury, disease, work, family, finances, environment, etc.
It’s hard to imagine these small endocrine glands, essentially the size of a walnut, are responsible for the manufacture and secretion of vital hormones such as cortisol, estrogen and testosterone.
Cortisol production is crucial for the body to combat stress. Where as thousands of years ago, “the stress” was a finite amount of time – you either outran the predator and survived, or you were eaten – nowadays stress seems to be a constant state of being for so many people.
Although not getting along with a boss, or missing a bill payment aren’t life threatening, like the saber-toothed tiger, our bodies react to the stress in a similar fashion.
The body starts to feel unsettled. More and more cortisol is produced because the body believes it needs massive amounts of energy to run for its life.
This happens over and over again throughout the day: getting the kids ready for school, getting yourself ready for work, traffic, you spill coffee on your new suit, your assistant calls in sick and you’ve got to send out 20 packages today, the babysitter is late picking up the kids from school and taking them to soccer practice, your late afternoon meeting runs over and you leave the office late so family dinner becomes you eating leftovers alone, again.
And all of this is going to happen again tomorrow!
Here’s the problem: chronic stress can overload the adrenal glands to the point of exhaustion.
For some, the fatigue will become overwhelming, and the adrenals will no longer function properly to provide the energy and resources the body needs on a day-to-day basis.
When someone is exhausted, it is natural to want to get more sleep. That’s not always easy with adrenal problems because insomnia is a common symptom.
There are, however, steps you can take to prepare yourself for sleep.