We live in a society where it is go-go-go, crash, get back up and continue moving. We as Americans are given on average 14 vacation days, but we end up taking only 8 of them. Most Europeans, on the other hand, are given a month of vacation or more and take all of the time. So what is it about our society, why do we push ourselves to the breaking point and then continue to push?
I believe doing this to our bodies leads to a lot of health concerns that don't necessarily need to be there. One organ system that seems to suffer is our adrenal glands. The adrenals help our body to be able to handle stress, however when the stress comes on a daily and even moment by moment occasion the body cannot handle it long term. Cortisol, which is excreted from the adrenals, helps to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, which is our fight or flight response. Back in the day (like when your grandfather walked to school uphill both ways in ten feet of snow) this response would help you be able to run away from that mountain lion or the bear when you were out hunting for food. Now the response seems to be kicked in all of the time as we are constantly being chased or put ourselves on the run with the millions of things we try to do in a day.
I have done countless salivary adrenal stress tests on my patients over the years. I don't often see the normal adrenal curve, which is a higher level of cortisol in the morning followed by a nice decrease in cortisol until it is at its lowest point at bed time. What I am seeing in practice is patients having low levels of cortisol in the morning followed by increasing levels throughout the day and high levels at night. And we wonder why we cannot sleep at night or why we get our "second wind" at 9pm. Well that is when our adrenal function seems to be kicking in as we transition from work life to home. My patients will often say they feel wired at night, like they just had several cups of coffee (the cortisol doing its thing). This is adrenaline running through the body.
Do you wonder how your adrenals are doing? Call Dr. Larrow at (415) 912-9934 to set up a free 15 minute consultation and learn more about adrenal testing and the many ways to help support and balance the adrenals.