There is only one thing worse than collapsing into bed exhausted at the end of the day.
Waking up exhausted!
You’ve spent all night tossing and turning, fighting off the night sweats, getting up to pee and trying to quieten the chatter in your mind.
It’s exhausting! And you feel as though there is no relief in sight. You can’t nap through the day, and you know that when you go to bed tonight, you’ll go through it all over again.
It’s exhausting to even think about!
Last week, I wrote about Sleep – The Secrets to Happy Hormones. How not enough, or not good enough sleep can lead to mood swings, weight gain and even the inability to think straight. Sleep is such a crucial factor when it comes to navigating peri-menopause with ease and grace rather than cranky pants and night sweats. I wanted to go a little further today, and offer you a few extra gems to understand your body.
Fred & Ginger
Cortisol and melatonin are two of the primary hormones that support sleep and healthy circadian rhythms (day/night cycles). Think of them like Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers. As one dances forwards, the other goes backwards, and neither can dance alone.
As cortisol rises in the morning to help you wake up, melatonin subsides. In the evening, to prepare your body for sleep, melatonin rises while cortisol drops off. It’s a delicate dance where they need to be in harmony or else everyone starts tripping over each other.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in your Adrenal glands – small pyramid-shaped organs that sit on top of your kidneys. They produce many of your reproductive hormones, along with your fight or flight hormones such as adrenaline.
Cortisol, like adrenaline is produced in higher amounts during times of stress. In prehistoric times, we would have surges of these hormones to help us get away from dangerous situations such as being chased by a predator.
Unfortunately, our body can’t differentiate between real danger and perceived danger. When we undergo something stressful like an argument with a loved one or dealing with an overbearing boss, our body goes into fight or flight mode. It thinks your being chased by a sabre-toothed tiger!
What does Cortisol do?
Cortisol and adrenaline surge to help you escape. They increase your blood pressure to oxygenate your muscles so you run faster, and they flood your bloodstream with glucose to give you energy to run away. Then, once you have escaped, you would rest and recover and your hormone levels would return to normal.
In today’s world, you are constantly being chased by the proverbial sabre-toothed tiger, aka stress. So, your adrenals don’t get a break from constantly producing these fight or flight hormones. As a result, your body is continuously exposed to high levels of these hormones without a break.
As with all things, too much of a good thing is never a good thing.
Chronically elevated cortisol levels can wreak havoc on your body. It can eventually lead to diminished levels as your adrenals become “fatigued” from working so hard.
As a result, that carefully choreographed dance between melatonin and cortisol is interrupted, and your body falls into a tangled mess. You feel awake and “wired” at night when you should be sleeping. Through the day you struggle to keep your eyes open when you need to be awake and alert.
Your Helper Isn’t Helping…
When struggling with fatigue, we often turn to things like coffee and chocolate for a quick energy boost. Both caffeine and sugar increase your cortisol production. It’s like adding fuel to the fire. You get a sudden surge, but then you burn out that much faster as a result.
It’s a vicious circle. You’re burning out your cortisol which is making you tired. You have a sugar and caffeine fix to perk up, which then surges your cortisol, burning it out even faster.
Breaking Up is Never Easy.
To break the cycle, it’s essential to go back to basics.
Eliminate the coffee and sugar.
As tough as it is to break up with these old friends, they have to go. There are so many wonderful alternatives these days that you can turn to instead. Many herbal teas which will actually support your tired adrenals rather than punishing them like coffee and coke do.
Eating a healthy, nutrient-dense wholefoods diets will supply your body with the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals it needs to create energy.
As we now know, it’s not merely about the calories that you consume, but making sure you also have all of the essential co-factors to turn your food into energy.
Finally, a solid wind-down evening routine to prepare your body and mind for sleep as we talked about last week. Perhaps even with a lovely cup of chamomile or passionflower tea to mark the end of the day.
Nourish. Nurture. Naturally!
Nurturing your adrenals, fighting off fatigue, and providing you with delicious yet simple nourishment are all strategies within my Vital Woman Program. They the foundation of health, but also the secret to comfortable peri-menopause. After all, weight gain, mood swings and fatigue are not a normal despite what we are led to believe!
For more information on how to Get Your Life Back from peri-menopause, make sure you enter your details below so that I can get a FREE copy of my ebook out to you ASAP.
Or, if you would like to dig deeper into the root cause of your own health issues, then please check out my Vital Woman Program here. It is a personalised program to transform your body weight, energy levels and mood so you can feel confident, alive and healthy in this important time of your life.