Many people with adrenal fatigue rely on a morning cup o’ joe (or maybe a few cups) to help them wake up and start their day. I mean, some of us can barely function without it! But caffeine and adrenal fatigue are deeply connected, and a reliance on caffeine can actually make your adrenal fatigue worse.
What Is Caffeine (and Where Can You Find It Outside of Coffee)?
Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning it stimulates your central nervous system with a shot of adrenaline and helps you feel more awake and energized. It blocks the effects of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that relaxes your brain and makes you feel more and more tired as the day goes on.
Caffeine can be found naturally in a lot of foods. It’s also commonly found in drinks like coffee (including decaffeinated blends), brewed tea, and cacao. But synthetic caffeine is everywhere, too—it’s what gives sodas and energy drinks their energy-boosting qualities.
With adrenal fatigue especially, you need to watch out for synthetic caffeine that’s added to everyday medicines like painkillers, weight loss supplements, and cold & flu meds. Drinking coffee or tea while you’re taking these medications can lead to a caffeine spike and impact adrenal fatigue symptoms.
How Are Caffeine and Adrenal Fatigue Connected?
The connection between caffeine and adrenal fatigue goes deeper than you think. Too much caffeine can worsen your adrenal fatigue symptoms and create a harder road to recovery. Here are four ways caffeine overload impacts adrenal fatigue.
Caffeine Overworks Your Fatigued Adrenal Glands
We already know that caffeine is a stimulant, right? But beyond stimulating your central nervous system, caffeine stimulates neuron activity in your brain that tells your adrenal glands to produce adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline and cortisol are your “fight or flight” hormones. They trigger a stress response that leaves you drained and tired.
Drinking caffeinated beverages each morning puts your already-fatigued adrenal glands on constant overdrive. The more coffee you drink, the more adrenaline and cortisol are produced, and the weaker your adrenals become. This makes it a lot more difficult to recover from adrenal fatigue when caffeine is still in your diet.
Too Much Caffeine Can Disrupt Your Sleep
Caffeine’s stimulant properties can keep you awake long after you lay your head on the pillow. In fact, caffeine stays in your system for an average of five hours! It’s difficult to get quality, restorative sleep when you drink a lot of caffeine, and adrenal fatigue requires tons of rest as you recover.
But for many people dealing with adrenal fatigue, coffee and tea aren’t just morning drinks. Some people consume caffeinated beverages, like soda or energy drinks, throughout the day. Others finish off their evenings with another cup of tea or coffee.
All that caffeine can lead to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, especially if you’re drinking it later in the day.
Rebound Caffeine Fatigue Can Make Your Symptoms Worse
As caffeine leaves your system, you’ll have to deal with rebound caffeine fatigue on top of your regular adrenal fatigue symptoms. Rebound fatigue can make you feel more tired than usual the day after you overload on caffeine. And your adrenal fatigue will be worse because of it.
Many people avoid rebound fatigue by drinking more coffee, but that can lead to insomnia down the line. It’s best for your recovery to leave caffeine behind and focus on rest.
Caffeine Spikes Your Heart Rate, Causing More Anxiety and Stress
Part of caffeine’s appeal to people with adrenal fatigue is the increased alertness that comes with a cup of coffee or tea. But that alertness can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to spike (ever felt shaky or jittery after drinking coffee?), causing anxiety and stress.
And this is on top of the stress and anxiety that comes with the increased production of cortisol from caffeine. This puts you in a cycle of constantly overworking your adrenal glands and sending yourself into an exhausted, stressed-out state.
4 Ways to Ditch Caffeine and Heal Adrenal Fatigue
If caffeine and adrenal fatigue are affecting your everyday life, here’s some good news: getting rid of one will help you recover from the other! Follow these four strategies to stay awake, cut out the caffeine, and heal your adrenal fatigue.
Eat Healthy Meals and Snacks Throughout the Day
Food is how we get our energy, so if you need a boost, turn to the pantry! Look for snacks with low sugar content to keep your energy sustained.
But watch out for hidden caffeine. Chocolate is a sweet treat at the end of a long day, but too much at once can lead to a caffeine spike.
For meal times, make sure you’re getting a combo of carbs, proteins, and fats to keep you going throughout the day. And never skip a meal! This will keep your blood sugar steady and your body energized.
Switch Over to Herbal Tea
If you’re still craving a hot drink in the morning, make the switch from coffee to caffeine-free herbal tea. Unlike brewed teas and coffees, herbal teas calm your heart rate and stress levels, helping you start off the day on a much better, healthier foot.
These herbal teas from Tiesta Tea have zero caffeine, which your adrenal glands are sure to appreciate. Caffeine and adrenal fatigue don’t have to go hand-in-hand when you have these blends waiting for you each morning.
Take Power Naps When You Need Them
When you have adrenal fatigue, you may need a power nap or two to get through your toughest days. And that’s completely okay!
Take power naps whenever you need them to recharge your batteries and get that extra bit of rest you need to carry on. But make sure you limit your naps to 20 minutes and keep them in the first half of the day. Longer naps can lead to grogginess and brain fog, while late-afternoon naps can make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
Get Fresh Air and Sunlight
Your circadian rhythm is like an internal clock that ticks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It maintains your sleep-wake cycle and can be seriously thrown off when caffeine and adrenal fatigue interact.
Avoid sending your circadian rhythm for a spin by replacing your morning coffee with a walk outside. Just 30 minutes of sunlight and fresh air at the start of the day can wake you up, boost your energy, and regulate your sleep cycle. Plus, taking a slow morning walk helps relieve any stress or anxiety you’re feeling about the day ahead!
Caffeine and adrenal fatigue are connected but don’t have to be intertwined. Limit the serious effects of caffeine on your adrenal glands by swapping out your caffeinated treats for these easy stay-awake strategies.