Do you get a full 7.5-8 hours of sleep every night?
Do you wake up feeling refreshed each morning?
Do you have sustained energy throughout the day without needing caffeine and other stimulants?
But you are not alone—most people will likely answer no to all of these questions. And suboptimal functioning does indeed affect our work, personal, and social lives.
The reason you may have suboptimal performance might be due to impaired adrenal function, reduced neurotransmitter output, or a neurotransmitter imbalance.
Let’s first discuss the adrenal glands, two very important endocrine organs that sit on top of each kidney, which are closely connected to our nervous system.
The adrenal glands produce numerous products:
- Aldosterone for salt and electrolyte balance.
- Cortisol for glucose metabolism and alertness.
- DHEA for sex hormone synthesis.
- Epinephrine/norepinephrine (adrenaline) to activate the sympathetic nervous system.
Each of the adrenal products have the purpose of getting us to move (i.e. to run from danger) when we are faced with a stressor. The sympathetic nervous system dominates during this time – this is considered the “fight or flight” response.
Unfortunately, the body often cannot distinguish between your life being in physical danger and the chronic stress of daily life.
Impaired adrenal function, or “adrenal fatigue”, is becoming common as we live in a society that praises workaholics, less sleep, and use of stimulants like coffee throughout the day.
So, how can you optimize your performance during the day while improving the health of your adrenal glands?
The ideal solution to this problem is to sleep 8 hours every night and remove all stressors from your life. But this is completely unrealistic and, actually, would decrease performance to some degree because some stressors are even good for you because it provides motivation!
Here’s what you CAN do:
- Get adequate rest at night – focus on getting 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Cortisol levels get regenerated each night while you sleep. If you are cutting your sleep short, you’re not going to produce enough cortisol needed to sustain your energy throughout the day. Getting an afternoon crash? Your cortisol levels will likely be too low during this time of the day.
- Avoid skipping meals – if you’re someone who skips breakfast, you might feel hypoglycemic at some point mid-morning. If you don’t eat sugar for energy, your adrenals will make sugar by synthesizing it from cortisol. Again, this causes your cortisol levels to drop too low in the afternoon.
- Increase your parasympathetic tone – this will counteract any sympathetic nervous stimulation. Whether you meditate, go for a walk in nature, or practice yoga poses, focus on means to calm and relax your mind, and this allows your body to be in a more relaxed state. As you move away from being sympathetic-dominant, your pupils constrict, digestion improves, and libido rises.
- Supplement with adaptogenic herbs to heal adrenal gland tissue, vitamins such as pantothenic acid (B5), and other natural products to increase adrenal output.
Contact us at The Aesthetic & Wellness Center and we will test your adrenal function and brain chemicals, to ensure you are producing adequate neurotransmitters needed to function optimally. Give us a call today at (941) 749-0741.
Dr. Inda Mowett is certified in Bariatric Medicine (non-surgical medical weight loss). She is one of 400 physicians nationwide specialized in this field.