Adrenal Fatigue Insomnia: Causes and how to improve sleep naturally

Adrenal fatigue insomnia

Adrenal fatigue insomnia causes and management

If you find yourself grappling with unrelenting exhaustion, yet you can’t fall asleep when you go to bed at night, or you are awake at 3 am with no hope of falling back asleep, you may have adrenal fatigue insomnia.

In addition to sleep disturbances, you may also have mysterious aches, and a mind that just won’t quiet down, making falling asleep much harder.

So in this post, we will examine adrenal fatigue insomnia, what causes it, and ways to manage adrenal fatigue, and related insomnia, and improve sleep quality.

But first, let’s take a moment to understand adrenal fatigue.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is a term used by alternative health practitioners to explain fatigue and other symptoms that are thought to be due to chronic (long-term) exposure to stressful situations.

It is thought that due to chronic stress, the adrenal glands become “overused” and eventually are unable to keep up with the ongoing fight-or-flight response, resulting in a slight drop in adrenal function and associated symptoms.

Adrenal fatigue can have a significant impact on one’s overall health and well-being, leading to issues such as chronic fatigue, hormone imbalance, weight gain, trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, and even mental health problems.

It’s important to note that there is a difference between adrenal fatigue and adrenal insufficiency.

The adrenal glands, located on top of the kidneys, produce a variety of important adrenal hormones that play a crucial role in the body’s stress response and overall health issues.

In adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s disease, the adrenal glands do not produce enough of these vital hormones, such as cortisol, and aldosterone leading to a range of very serious symptoms.

In fact adrenal insufficiency can be life-threatening so it’s important to seek medical care immediately for proper diagnoses and management.

If you are experiencing such issues, it’s best to consult with a healthcare provider for proper medical evaluation and treatment, as the underlying causes may be related to other health problems such as thyroid or autoimmune disorders.

Signs of adrenal fatigue

Persistent fatigue and lack of energy, even after sleep.
Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
Cravings for salty or sweet foods.
Difficulty concentrating or brain fog.
Body aches or muscle weakness.
Mood swings, irritability, or anxiety.
Low blood pressure.
Digestive issues, such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.
Weight gain or difficulty losing weight.t item
Decreased sex drive. item
Increased susceptibility to illness
Adrenal Fatigue and Insomnia
Thin hair and hair falling out.

Insomnia and adrenal fatigue

To understand the relationship between adrenal fatigue and insomnia we must first understand how cortisol works.

Cortisol and adrenal fatigue insomnia

One of the most common symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue is insomnia, a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep.

However, according to the Mayo Clinic, the cause of insomnia can have many causes including stress, mental illness, medications, and more.

But cortisol dysregulation as in adrenal fatigue can also cause sleeplessness and insomnia.

But cortisol is also very important for health as well. So its just need to regulated as all hormones in the body must be balanced to work as they are supposed to.

Cortisol plays a crucial role in regulating various bodily functions, including metabolism, immune response, and the body’s response to stress.

And one of cortisol’s essential roles is in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm.

The circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours.

Cortisol levels typically follow a distinct pattern throughout the day, with the highest levels occurring in the morning to help wake you up and the lowest levels occurring at night to facilitate sleep.

Here’s how cortisol interacts with the sleep-wake cycle:

Morning Rise: Cortisol levels typically start to rise about an hour before waking up, reaching their peak shortly after waking. This surge in cortisol helps increase alertness and prepares the body for the day ahead.

Daytime Levels: Cortisol levels remain relatively stable during the daytime, gradually declining as the day progresses.

However, they still play a role in maintaining energy levels and regulating various bodily functions throughout the day.

Evening Decline: As the evening approaches, cortisol levels gradually decline, signaling to the body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Lower cortisol levels help promote relaxation and facilitate the transition into restful sleep.

Nighttime Levels: Cortisol levels continue to decrease during the night, reaching their lowest point in the early hours of the morning.

This decline in cortisol allows other hormones, such as melatonin, to rise, promoting deep, restorative sleep.

In cases of adrenal dysfunction cortisol levels are elevated or erratic, and you may experience heightened alertness when you should be winding down for sleep, making it challenging to relax and fall asleep.

Additionally, chronic stress, irregular sleep patterns, and certain medical conditions can all influence cortisol levels and disrupt the delicate balance of the circadian rhythm.

All of these are stressors and the body cannot differentiate one type of stress from another.

The effect of insomnia on health

Insomnia can have a significant impact on the quality of life and trigger serious health problems, such as cardiovascular problems, thyroid disorders, chronic pain, type-2 diabetes, seizures, obesity, and even certain types of cancer.

Additionally, hormonal imbalances, medical conditions, psychological disturbances, and certain lifestyle habits or prescribed drugs can all contribute to the development of insomnia in individuals with adrenal fatigue, and even lead to adrenal fatigue.

Here are some medical conditions also associated with insomnia and may lead to adrenal fatigue.

ConditionImpact on Sleep
Adrenal FatigueDisrupts the body’s sleep-wake cycle, leading to insomnia
StressIncreases cortisol levels, which can interfere with sleep
DepressionOften associated with sleep disturbances, including insomnia
AnxietyIt can cause difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
Mental TraumaCan lead to nightmares, hyperarousal, and insomnia

How to improve sleep in adrenal fatigue

Given the health and life impact of insomnia and poor sleep quality, it’s important to find ways to improve adrenal fatigue symptoms and sleep quality.

Improving sleep when experiencing insomnia associated with adrenal fatigue involves adopting a multifaceted approach that addresses both sleep hygiene practices and underlying factors contributing to adrenal dysfunction.

So let’s look at steps you can take to fight adrenal fatigue insomnia and improve sleep quality and quantity.

1. Address underlying causes of insomnia.

The first step is to understand the underlying cause of your insomnia.

Addressing the underlying causes of insomnia is crucial for individuals with adrenal fatigue.

By identifying and managing the factors contributing to your sleep difficulties, such as stressmental health conditions, or lifestyle habits, you can find relief from the debilitating effects of insomnia and improve your overall well-being.

2. Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Consistency helps regulate your body’s internal clock and promotes better sleep quality.

2. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Develop a calming pre-sleep routine to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.

This could include activities like reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation.

3. Optimize Your Sleep Environment

Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep by keeping it cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows, and consider using white noise machines or earplugs if noise is a concern.

Most importantly, keep the bedroom clean and organized. A disorganized environment is stressful and can contribute to adrenal insomnia.

4. Limit Exposure to Screens Before Bed

The blue light emitted by electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers can interfere with melatonin production and disrupt sleep.

The light exposure makes the brain think it’s still daytime and keeps cortisol elevated. Aim to limit screen time at least an hour before bedtime.

5. Manage Stress

Practice stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation to help lower cortisol levels and promote relaxation before bed.

6. Regular Exercise

Engage in regular physical activity, but avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime, as it can be stimulating and interfere with sleep. Aim for moderate-intensity exercise earlier in the day.

7. Mindful Eating

Pay attention to your diet and avoid consuming caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals close to bedtime, as they can disrupt sleep. Instead, opt for light, sleep-promoting snacks if needed.

8. Seek Support

Work with a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or naturopath, who specializes in adrenal health and fatigue.

They can help identify underlying imbalances and develop a personalized treatment plan that may include dietary changes, supplements, and lifestyle modifications to support adrenal function and improve sleep.

Remember that addressing adrenal fatigue and associated insomnia may take time and persistence. Be patient with yourself and focus on implementing gradual changes that promote overall health and well-being.

9. Avoid caffeine after 2 pm

To minimize the negative effects of caffeine on sleep and stress, it’s advisable to limit caffeine intake, particularly in the afternoon and evening hours.

Opt for decaffeinated beverages or caffeine-free alternatives later in the day, and be mindful of hidden sources of caffeine in certain foods, medications, and supplements.

10 Eat a healthy sleep-promoting diet

Your diet plays a big part in the health of your sleep. Unhealthy foods cause comorbid health problems and can contribute to adrenal fatigue and insomnia.

But when you eat a diet that is balanced and nutritions you get nutrients that promote sleep

Eat foods that contain magnesium such as leafy greens, fatty fish, and nuts. Magnesium is a relaxing mineral and helps with sleep quality.

Another important nutrient is vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for many health functions including sleep.

Consider a diet high in B vitamins espcially vitamin B6, and B9, because they contribute to neurotransmitter production and function.

Some foods such as bananas, and turkey contain tryptophan, and important serotonin precursor.

See this post on the best foods to help you sleep better at night.

11. Take supplements

There are some natural supplements that can help improve sleep. Be careful though before taking any supplement especially if you are taking other medications or have other health problems.

This ensures safety and helps determine the most appropriate supplement and dosage for your specific needs.

Best sleep supplements include the following:

Melatonin: This is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. It’s particularly useful for people with insomnia, jet lag, or irregular sleep schedules. Typical doses range from 0.5 mg to 5 mg taken 30-60 minutes before bedtime.

Magnesium: This mineral plays a role in many bodily functions, including sleep. Magnesium can help relax muscles and calm the nervous system. It is often taken in doses of 200-400 mg, usually in forms like magnesium citrate, glycinate, or oxide.

Valerian Root: A herbal supplement known for its sedative properties. It’s commonly used for insomnia and anxiety. Typical doses range from 300-600 mg taken 30 minutes to 2 hours before bedtime.

L-Theanine: An amino acid found in tea leaves, it promotes relaxation without sedation. It can improve sleep quality, especially when combined with GABA or magnesium. Doses range from 100-200 mg.

GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid): A neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and reduces neuronal excitability. It’s often used to ease anxiety and improve sleep. Typical doses are 100-200 mg.

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan): A precursor to serotonin, which is then converted to melatonin. It can help with sleep onset and quality. Typical doses are 100-300 mg taken before bedtime.

Chamomile: Often consumed as a tea, chamomile has mild sedative effects and can help with relaxation and sleep. Chamomile extract supplements are also available, with typical doses around 200-400 mg.

Lavender: Known for its calming effects, lavender can be used in various forms such as essential oil, tea, or supplements. It helps reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality. Lavender oil capsules are typically taken at doses of 80-160 mg.

Glycine: An amino acid that has a calming effect on the brain. It’s believed to help improve sleep quality and reduce sleep onset time. Typical doses are 3 grams taken before bedtime.

Passionflower: A herbal supplement that can help with anxiety and insomnia. It’s often used in combination with other calming herbs. Typical doses are 500 mg of dried herb or 250-500 mg of extract.

Final words about Adrenal Fatigue Insomnia

The key strategies for managing adrenal fatigue insomnia and relieving adrenal fatigue symptoms include adopting a healthy lifestyle, such as a balanced diet, regular physical exercise, and stress-reducing practices like meditation and yoga.

Dietary changes can play a crucial role in supporting adrenal health and improving sleep quality. Avoiding stimulants like caffeine and alcohol, which can disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, is essential.

Incorporating nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can help nourish the adrenal glands and promote better sleep.

 Supplements like Siberian ginsenggolden rootlicorice rootmaca root, and ashwagandha may also provide adrenal support and alleviate insomnia.

Stress reduction techniques, such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and gentle yoga practices, can help lower cortisol levels and promote relaxation, ultimately improving sleep quality.

Additionally, establishing a consistent sleep routine, avoiding screens before bedtime, and ensuring a comfortable sleep environment can contribute to better sleep and adrenal recovery.

Seeking the guidance of a healthcare provider or a qualified alternative practitioner can also be beneficial in developing a comprehensive management plan for adrenal fatigue and associated insomnia.


What is adrenal fatigue?

According to the Mayo Clinic, adrenal fatigue is not an official medical diagnosis, but rather a general term used to describe a group of symptoms that are not specific.

These symptoms can include tiredness, weakness, sleep problems, and cravings for sugar and salt. The adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys and produce a variety of important hormones.

When the adrenal glands don’t make enough hormones, the medical term for that condition is adrenal insufficiency, which may be due to another medical condition, surgery, or certain treatments.

Is adrenal fatigue a recognized medical condition?

According to healthdirect, adrenal fatigue is a term used by alternative health practitioners to explain tiredness and other symptoms that are thought to be due to chronic (long-term) exposure to stressful situations.

However, it is not a recognized medical diagnosis, and many studies have failed to prove that adrenal fatigue is a medical condition.

What causes adrenal fatigue?

The information provided indicates that adrenal fatigue is thought to be caused by “overuse” of the adrenal glands due to ongoing exposure to mental, emotional, and physical stress.

The theory is that chronic stress leads to the adrenal glands not being able to keep up with the demands of the ongoing “fight-or-flight” state in the body, resulting in a small drop in adrenal function that triggers the symptoms of adrenal fatigue.

How does adrenal fatigue affect sleep?

The information provided indicates that insomnia, or the inability to fall asleep, is a common symptom associated with adrenal fatigue.

Sleeplessness is usually a side effect of stress, depression, anxiety, and mental trauma, and it can have a significant impact on the quality of life and trigger serious health problems, such as cardiovascular issues, thyroid disorders, chronic pain, type-2 diabetes, seizures, obesity, and even certain types of cancer.

How can adrenal fatigue insomnia be managed?

While adrenal fatigue is not a recognized medical condition, your sysmptoms are real and there are natural approaches that may help manage the associated symptoms, including insomnia.

See related posts

Signs of adrenal fatigue

Best teas for adrenal fatigue

how to reduce cortisol

How to balance your hormones naturally

Best supplements for adrenal fatigue

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