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Conditions Related to HPA Axis Dysfunction_Final

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>> Hello, it's great to see you again. In this lecture, we are going to talk about two of the biggest ways that stress can disrupt the adrenal system and impact your clients' lives. I'll also share with you the ways you can help your client start to feel better simply through a series of lifestyle changes. Something troubling about modern society is that stress starts earlier and earlier in people's lives these days. Did you know that over 80% of teens report that they experience moderate to severe stress during the school year? Even during the summer, more than 65% of them are reporting moderate to severe stress. This is complicated by the fact that most teens lack adequate coping skills, while about a third, exercise to deal with their stress, nearly half engage in more sedentary activities, like playing video games and using the Internet. They're just looking for something to calm them down and help them relax, but instead of releasing stress, all they're doing is creating distractions. This behavior sets them up with poor coping skills as adults, as it becomes habitual for them to use disconnection as a way to deal with stress. By the time they get to be adults, almost 75% still report feeling moderately to severely stressed, except now, it's typically about money and job demands. On average, adults' sedentary over six hours per day, reporting little activity other than using a computer, watching television, or playing video games. And for those who work desk jobs, this number can be significantly higher. This kind of lifestyle has significant health consequences. Less than 10% of people surveyed in a recent study reported excellent health. The epidemic of stress induced conditions has reached an all-time high. In fact, the two most troubling consequences of HPA axis dysfunction are insomnia and exhaustion. Let's look at insomnia first. Sleep is one of the best solutions for those who suffer with HPA axis dysfunction. Always enquire if your clients are experiencing sleep related issues. If they are, you'll want to work on this issue first, since improvements in sleep will produce improvements elsewhere. Conversely, a steady or worsening pattern of poor sleep can cause declines in many other areas if it's not remedied. First and foremost, continual stress disrupts sleep. This can leave your clients feeling chronically burned out. I'm sure you can relate here. Think back to the last time that you had a very poor night sleep. Did you find your regular activities the following day to be harder than usual to complete? Chances are you found yourself more irritable and foggier. Now think about a day when you woke up after a full restful night sleep feeling totally refreshed. Did you find yourself feeling more energetic, joyful, and alert? Days like that make it easier to tackle your to-do list, and occasionally, even then some. Our ability to function when rested versus when we're in a state of sleep deprivation differs profoundly. I cannot stress it enough, no pun intended, but getting adequate rest is so important to clients who are trying to heal their adrenals. And yet, it's also one of the most difficult changes to make. It's a catch-22. Their system is likely on high alert and consistently getting a good night's sleep can feel downright impossible to achieve. As a person's cortisol levels rise and fall, they may find themselves falling asleep at the wrong times of the day and then being wide awake at night when they need the rest the most. This can get so bad that exhaustion sets in, and the person becomes unable to function at all. When it gets that bad, a person may become partly or completely bedridden. Work becomes difficult if not impossible to keep up with, and the smallest stressor can completely overwhelm their system resulting in fatigue, illness, and for many, depression. Rest is crucial to begin to reverse a stress response that's in overdrive. Giving the nervous system a well-deserved break from everyday stress allows the system to lower its drive in cortisol production which in turn allows the body to heal. The body manages sleep through a complex system. It's meant to run on what's called a circadian rhythm, a biological rhythm that has distinct times for wakefulness and sleep. There are a group of cells in the hypothalamus called the master clock. These cells regulate sleep, hunger, growth, hormone release, and body temperature. When it's functioning properly, the stage is set for a restful night's sleep. Light is what provides the main cue for these cells to function properly. When light decreases, as it's meant to at the end of the day, a hormone called melatonin is released from the pineal gland, this causes a slow transition from wakefulness to sleepiness. When light increases again, as it does in the morning, melatonin decreases, and the body shifts from sleep to wakefulness, such a simple process, right? Unfortunately, our modern world has complicated this for us. High cortisol, especially at night can make sleep difficult. Both falling asleep and staying asleep can be a challenge. Cortisol actually decreases melatonin in order to maintain a vigilant system watching for threats. Poor sleep doesn't just affect the adrenals though. It can also drive up appetite, increase blood pressure, weaken the immune system, and worsen depression. Here's an interesting fact, just one night of poor sleep can decrease insulin sensitivity by 33% in otherwise healthy people. This is why people tend to make poor food decisions when they are tired and why poor sleep is associated with weight gain. If you've ever found it harder to resist the donuts at a morning meeting after a poor night's sleep, then you know what I'm talking about. Ultimately, sleep is critical to maintaining not only insulin but all the other hormones that are affected by insulin. So what can you do? Luckily, there are natural solutions that can help with sleep. I'll now share with you six things your clients can do to help get a more restful night's sleep so they can begin to heal. Ready? Number one, establish a regular bedtime. Having a regular bedtime helps to establish a healthy sleep pattern. Think about it. If your bedtime is different every night, that's not much of a pattern at all. The body is a well-oiled machine that orchestrates many functions based on rhythms and signals. As such, the body likes routine. It prefers to eat, sleep, and be active on a schedule. When the schedule gets disrupted, it interferes with the normal cycle of sleep and wakefulness. Establishing a regular bedtime and sticking to it, allows the body to plan its sleep cycle. Even if your client has trouble falling asleep early and lies in bed awake for a long time, getting them into that restful space early on helps to wind the body down and set the stage for sleep. They may not like staying in bed awake when they can be up doing other things, but this is what will help create a pattern. To get your night owls in bed earlier and at a consistent time, it can be helpful to suggest that they set a reminder on their phone for when to start winding down for the night. In a moment, we'll talk about creating a soothing evening ritual that will help them stick to that bedtime. Number two, decrease electronic devices before bed. Limiting exposure to electronics before bedtime helps to improve sleep. Before electric lighting, most people went to bed when it got dark and got up when the sun came up. This is how the body was designed to work. The lighting they did have, gas or candle light, was much more gentle on the eyes than today's lighting. Now, we have artificial lighting which by itself can disrupt sleep. The light from computer screens, televisions, smartphones, and tablets is heavy on the blue light spectrum which is especially stimulating to the brain. Even one evening of blue light exposure can result in having less energy and a slower metabolism the next day. To limit blue light exposure in the evenings, encourage your clients to put away their electronics two hours before bed. If they just can't do it due to work requirements, most electronics have a setting that allows the blue light to be reduced. On some devices, this can even be set on a schedule to gradually reduce the blue light output over time up to an established bedtime. They can also use blue light shielding glasses known as blue blockers which block the blue light but let the rest in. These have been shown to be effective in improving sleep quality and length. However, it is not just the light that's problematic with night time electronic gadget use. The bottom line is that they are stimulating and even stress inducing to use. Recent research even suggests that social media sites are anxiety producing and can lead to depression. It is therefore best to just banish electronic devices from the bedroom. People who are disturbed often at night by a cell phone or other device going off have been shown to have sleep disturbances, increased perceived stress, and signs of depression. So encourage your clients to keep electronics out of the bedroom. Put it to them this way. Would they drink a cup of espresso right before bed? If they're struggling to fall asleep at night, chances are they wouldn't intentionally ingest something stimulating before trying to get some shuteye. If they think caffeine is a bad idea at bedtime, electronics are not much different. Number three, stop eating several hours before bedtime. Eating right before bedtime activates the digestive system which can disturb sleep. Suggest to your clients that they refrain from eating at least two hours before bed. A person with elevated cortisol who eats before bed time will experience a rise in blood sugar followed by a crash. While eating before bed helps some people get to sleep, in the long run, the sleep is disturbed by the blood sugar imbalances. Fasting before bed has been shown to decrease the brain fog and attention difficulties associated with sleep deprivation. Your client should stop eating at least two hours before bed with three hours being ideal. Number four, create a bedtime ritual. A soothing bedtime routine sets the stage for a good night's sleep. There's no doubt about it, many of us burn the candle at both ends. We go until we simply can't go any more. Eventually, we crash feeling tired but wired, wanting to sleep but unable to wind down enough to actually do it. Can you relate to that? What your body needs is a signal that it's the end of the day, and it's time to relax. Sending emails in bed at midnight does not send that signal. A bedtime routine doesn't have to be complicated. For some people, it's as simple as settling down with a good book to read for just a few minutes. Other possibilities for a bedtime ritual include an Epsom salt bath, diffusing essential oils, especially lavender, meditating, journaling, gentle stretching, or a cup of herbal tea. Encourage your clients to make their bedroom a sanctuary of rest. Comfortable pillows, luxurious sheets, and nice smelling candles will all contribute to a more relaxed bedtime. Also, soft lighting. Plus, this creates an aura of pampering and self-care which is always nice. Also, make sure the bedroom is completely dark when sleeping. Light blocking curtains can help with this. Also, removing electronics from the bedroom, which can often have indicator lights that can disturb sleep. Number five, exercise and engage in physical activity earlier in the day. Physical activity is good for sleep but not right before bed. An active lifestyle promotes rest. In fact, exercising for 150 minutes per week can significantly improve sleep. A sedentary lifestyle, on the other hand, contributes to sleep disturbances. Encourage your clients to exercise regularly, but be sure to educate them about avoiding late night exercise, unless it is low-intensity yoga. They should skip any pre-bedtime exercise routines. The best time for your clients to exercise is in the morning when energy should be highest. Exercising late in the day increases cortisol levels which can affect sleep. It also can cause blood sugar to dip too low to get a good rest. It's hard for many people to hit the gym in the morning before their busy day begins, but at least trying to fit in exercise before, rather than after dinner time, can help improve sleep. And this will only make mornings easier and create more energy in space for early day activity. Number six, avoid alcohol and caffeine. Sleep quality can be compromised by alcohol and caffeine consumption. Many people turn to caffeine to help fight off the fogginess of sleep deprivation, but that's probably doing more harm than good. Caffeine artificially stimulates the adrenals, so clients with adrenal dysfunction should cut back with an eye toward cutting it out completely. Cutting a cup of coffee with half decaf is a great way to start cutting back without feeling the loss of going cold turkey. Caffeine also decreases the amount of melatonin released from the pineal gland which contributes to poor sleep. Often clients may ask if it matters when they consume caffeine. The answer is that it varies from person to person. If your client has a cup of coffee in the morning and isn't sleeping well, he or she may want to consider switching to herbal tea for a week to see if that improves sleep quality. Alcohol also disturbs sleep. This seems counter-intuitive to many who've experienced drowsiness after a glass of wine or having some cocktails. While it can help people fall asleep faster, it interferes with rapid eye movement or REM sleep, which is the time when people dream. Dreamtime is extremely important to getting adequate rest, healing the adrenals, and improving daytime wakefulness. Alcohol also increases the incidence of sleep apnea episodes, where a person stops breathing multiple times during the night. This can be life-threatening over time as sleep apnea has been found to be a risk factor for heart disease and sudden death. Clients with adrenal disturbances should steer clear of caffeine and alcohol all together. To heal, the very first thing they need is rest. Many clients come to rely on these crutches to get them through the day, and they just cannot imagine a life without them. Show them that you understand and encourage them to work slowly toward crowding them out and allowing themselves the opportunity for the beautiful sleep they deserve. So to recap what we just covered, the six recommendations you can make to your clients for achieving higher quality sleep are to establish a regular bedtime, decrease usage of electronic devices before bed, stop eating several hours before bedtime, create a bedtime ritual, exercise and engage in physical activities earlier in the day, and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Now let's turn to the second most troubling symptom of HPA axis dysfunction, exhaustion. As the adrenals get more and more over stimulated, the body stops responding. Cortisol levels become less effective at maintaining the blood sugar levels required to keep energy levels up. The body can no longer keep up with the constant drive to respond to stress, and exhaustion sets in. At this point, cortisol levels are either low all the time or they may be low during the day and get higher in the evening. A diurnal cortisol test is a measurement tool for looking at the cortisol levels of a person over the course of the day. On a normal saliva-based test, you would see high cortisol in the morning which tapers off in the afternoon and drops to its lowest level in the evening in time to prepare for sleep. In the case of exhaustion, you'd likely see a flat line, or you might see lower levels during the day and higher than normal levels at night. Exhaustion may start out with difficulty waking up, morning fogginess, and lack of drive. Over time, without intervention, it can become so bad that your client is bedridden for some or even all of the day. The smallest stressor can cause them to crash. Sleep is fitful and not restorative. They often crave a lot of sugar and salt because those foods in moderate amounts no longer give them the energy they once did. People who are exhausted catch every cold and flu that comes their way, leaving them feeling even more tired and defeated. They may feel as though all hope is lost. Despite their feelings of hopelessness, you can encourage them that this is reversible because, thankfully, it is. You can start by spending just a few extra minutes with a client who is struggling with symptoms of exhaustion on envisioning and refining his or her goals for health and life. Ask them, what do you want your life to look like on the other side of this health challenge? Creating a picture of a better future and reminding your client that this condition can be worked through will help them to stay motivated and consistently make the necessary changes for a positive outcome when their drive is low. In addition to the emotional support that you provide, your client's efforts to improve their sleep and eat higher quality food is of the utmost importance to begin, not only healing the underlying cause of insomnia and exhaustion, but also rebuilding your client's resilience to stress. Additionally, lifestyle practices like meditation, restorative yoga, and creating a more supportive network of family and friends are an integral part of the healing journey too. And we're going to elaborate more on those later. Okay, that wraps up this lecture on helping your clients with their symptoms of dysregulated adrenal function. If there's one thing to take away from this discussion, it's that the most important recovery tool for your clients is rest. Sleep is so important to good adrenal health and will help to relieve their symptoms of brain fog, short attention, and daytime sleepiness. Improvements in this area will improve their functioning all around. And remember, we can't just blame the adrenals for being the sole cause of poor sleep, there are a lot of other factors that impair restful sleep, six of which we discussed here today. It's important to remind your clients that there is so much they can do to correct their adrenal dysfunction and start getting a better night's sleep. It can feel like insomnia is something that is totally out of their control, but they do have the power to mitigate the lifestyle factors that lead to stress and to poor sleep. Exhaustion can also make it difficult for your clients just to get through day-to-day life. Taking steps like improving diet, meditating, and creating a good support network are critical for overcoming exhaustion. Now let's hear from you. Do you find it easy to fall and to stay asleep? Do you or have you ever dealt with sleep disturbances with insomnia or with exhaustion? What was it like? What helped you to overcome them? Hop on over to the Facebook group page and share your experiences and tips for what helps you best relax and get a good night's rest. Thank you for joining us, and I'll see you soon.

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Duration: 19 minutes and 48 seconds
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Language: English
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Views: 5
Posted by: ninaz on Mar 25, 2018

Conditions Related to HPA Axis Dysfunction_Final

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