Why am I always so exhausted?

Malgorzata Sypien, M.D., FAAFP, Integrative Family Practice, Chicago IL

Adrenal Fatigue

Today’s busy lifestyles include family obligations, high-stress workloads & technology overload which can lead to stress and exhaustion. Most of us just assume that this is a fact of life when it could very well be adrenal fatigue. Research has proven that sleep disturbances are directly related to increased sensitivity to the arousal-producing stress hormone cortisol which is produced in the adrenal gland. Cortisol is excitatory which means it arouses us, wakes us and primes us for action. Unfortunately, when we are under a great deal of prolonged stress, our cortisol levels remain elevated, so the adrenal gland never gets a chance to recharge. When cortisol levels are high we are more likely to become agitated and stressed out which can lead to adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue can escalate to adrenal burn out caused by low cortisol levels. In many cases, this chain reaction may lead to chronic stress.

When we don’t get a good night’s sleep, our circadian rhythm becomes disrupted and the following chain of events ensue:

  • Negatively affects our Serotonin and Melatonin levels – hormones that govern appetite
  • Stress keeps us in an agitated state putting a work load on our cortisol levels
  • These two things affect appetite leading to cravings, obesity and blood sugar imbalance
  • Ultimately our mood is negatively affected leading further to fatigue and moodiness

How Do I Get My Energy Back?

These imbalances leave us with a feeling further stress because it seems as though we are caught in a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation, poor nutrition and mood swings. There are a number of ways we can break this cycle by getting back to the basics including:

Eating Healthy

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar is a common problem of adrenal fatigue sufferers, so adjusting your diet to support consistent blood sugar levels can have a marked improvement. Commit to a regime of eating healthy including:

  • A nutritious low sugar breakfast with fruits fiber
  • Eat smaller more frequent meals throughout the day
  • A light healthy snack before bedtime
  • Include brown rice, vegetables, fruits

Skip the Stimulants

Consider giving up or cutting back on your caffeine intake as it only leaves you feeling wired with the ultimate result of crashing your energy levels.


I know it is difficult to get a good night’s sleep in our busy lives, but commit to at least eight hours of sleep per night. If you stay up late, adrenal fatigue can set in which leads to sleeplessness due to a small increase in Cortisol by the adrenal gland to keep you going.

Stress Management

Reframe and Relax! Reframing is the art of consciously evolving negative thoughts in to neutral or positive thoughts. This may mean changing negative assumptions into positive thoughts simply by using your thought process to overcome the negative… look for the positive things in life and steer clear of negativity. Relaxation is accomplished through visualization, meditation or simply lying still and focusing on breathing deeply, in through the nose and out through the mouth.

Moderate Exercise

Develop good exercise habits without going overboard. If you are a frequent exercise fanatic, great… just don’t over-do it as this can cause adrenal fatigue as well. Aim for gradual incremental increases in intensity of your workouts with adequate recovery time.

Call Dr. Sypien now to discuss the effects of Adrenal fatigue and start improving your quality of life each and every day.

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Please feel free to contact us with your specific needs or to schedule an appointment at (773) 205-2555 or email us at info@integrativefamilypractice.com