- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Binaural Therapy - a Solution for Adrenal Fatigue?
Chronic stress can lead to several problems and has all sorts of effects on our lives on a day to day basis. Though it can lead to many things, I will be discussing one very important aspect of it that is extremely common amongst individuals in today's modern society.
Adrenal Fatigue is an extremely common condition not recognised by most mainstream doctors, yet many reading this article will have at least one family member suffering the effects of this abundant yet often silent condition.
Some people think of Adrenal Fatigue as Addison's disease, but this is not what I will be discussing today (even though it can potentially be triggered by this very condition that I'm discussing)...
Dr. Jerry Block MD, FACP Internal Medicine discusses the effects that chronic stress has on the adrenal glands (the glands responsible for regulating many parts of the body including its immune system) in the following video, which is going to touch base on the content of this particular hub.
So what happens if people do have chronic stress and ignore it?
All sorts of things can happen if people have chronic stress but choose to ignore it. Many people are thought to instinctively know that something isn't quite right with their lifestyle or their sleeping patterns are not ideal, but will typically 'move along' with life without addressing their current lifestyle until the problems become more obvious.
A lot of people don't know they have it until it's too late
Sad but true. And it is certainly the case with me. I have developed a myriad of food intolerances and allergies in the last couple of months and seem to be beaten down by any flu that goes around. I went in for a flu shot at the beginning of the year and that seemed to create far more problems than it solved. I also have a very highly permeable "'leaky' gut", which was discovered at a doctor's visit very recently. I already have coeliac (aka celiac) disease, meaning that I can't consume any gluten (the protein found in wheat, rye, barley or oats) whatsoever, which developed many many years ago and now I'm stuck with having to avoid milk, soy, fructose, onions, garlic, salicylates, MSG and more...
I was also exposed to gluten at a restaurant very recently (that's supposed to be one of the top 5 venues in Australia) where a regular piece of chocolate cake (which of course had wheat flour in it) was served to me. I questioned the waiter as I was slightly concerned about its texture. He went back to the kitchen and asked the head chef, coming back to assure me that it was completely gluten free and that I could enjoy it. As soon as I took my last bite I knew something was very wrong. I had also had gotten very little sleep the few nights before the incident and can tell you the consequences were too grand to even begin to describe. Let's just say that I thankfully spent only one day in hospital after finding out that my large intestine was on the verge of bursting open.
While I am thankful that the inflammation has cooled down, I am certainly far from well. My nights have been very unstable with me waking up several times during an eight-hour period of 'bedtime' and aches in my legs were continually getting worse.
It's not just the symptoms or disease, but people start falling apart from within...
Examples of this include loss of self-esteem, self-control, loss of appetite, missing meals, being distracted from work, feeling like they don't mean anything to the world and possibly committing suicide.
After the adrenal glands push lots of cortisol out for days, weeks or months, they eventually become fatigued
Like most body systems, the adrenal glands can only do so much. Cortisol is an an adrenal-cortex hormone that is active in carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It helps the body perform very important functions that are required day in and day out. If we get insufficient sleep, cortisol production goes up. Due to this, the adrenal glands have to work harder to keep up with the demand. Eventually the get tired and can no longer keep up, and the whole process of adrenal fatigue kicks in.
Adrenal failure is the worst stage of adrenal fatigue. This occurs when the body can no longer receive cortisol from the adrenal glands due to their being worn out.
Allergies, Infections, Weight Gain, Aches and more problems arise!
One of the important properties of cortisol in particular is it's ability to suppress one's immune system. Now you may be asking whether this is a good or bad thing, thinking that our ability to fight off infections may be compromised if we look after our adrenal glands. We all know that sleep is an important part of keeping a strong immune system in place (one that's able to effectively fight off invading pathogens (such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites)).
But what's more important than the amount of sleep is the type of sleep. Getting 10-11 hours of sleep each night, but waking up between 1 and 4 in the morning on a frequent basis could very well be an early sign that chronic stress is present in one's life. And (as mentioned previously), while getting plenty of sleep is good for one's immune system in terms of maximising its ability to fight off foreign invading pathogens, not getting enough of the right type of sleep may cause one's immune system to go 'overboard'. As I mentioned earlier, cortisol naturally plays a role in suppressing the immune system.
If we don't get enough of the right type of sleep, eventually there is likely to be too little cortisol in the bloodstream and the immune system may eventually go haywire. These statements solidly support the theory that allergies, sensitivities and autoimmune diseases are more likely to occur when the adrenal glands are fatigued.
A lot of people have trouble falling asleep.
In this modern day and age, where electric lighting is used and where humans stay up late at night, many people find themselves in as situation where they have trouble falling asleep at night. I find pulling an all-nighter followed by an all-dayer (while not so good in the short term) can be helpful in restoring the ability for myself to re-establish a desire to sleep at a particular time at night. I find it a way to 'reset' my sleeping pattern.
Others find that reading before going to bed helps, or being in a relatively dark room in the evening can be helpful in addressing this common problem.
Some people have trouble staying asleep
Waking up between the hours of one and four in the morning each and every night, as I mentioned earlier, is an earlier sign that one may be on the path toward developing adrenal fatigue. I personally experienced this for a couple of years, and somehow thought that this was 'normal' and perfectly fine. After all I was a healthy, happy young lady and no one else could tell me what to do. I was stubborn and self-sufficient. Little did I know about where i was headed.
Don't make the same mistake that I did. If you find yourself remembering all of your dreams all night and every night then there's a chance that you may be spending a lot of time in the 'theta' sleep cycle rather than the 'delta' sleep which I discuss below.
But please don't get me wrong. Getting up at night to use the restroom or get a drink of water is fine. Don't panic if it happens occasionally. If you do notice a pattern, however, it may be best to re-evaluate your lifestyle and find ways that you also can achieve a good, uninterrupted night's sleep.
It is in sleep that the body rejuvenates itself
That's right. But again, it must be plentiful and of the right type. All too often I found myself trying to get at least 10-11 hours of sleep at night, thinking that I'd accumulate a sleep debt if I took shortcuts. What I didn't realise, however, was that despite my eyes being shut for all these hours I still could never admit to having had a good night's sleep. Is it any wonder that I have recently been in a total wreck?
4 Central Brain Waves
We know that there are four main brain waves.
There are the:
- beta (i.e. wide awake)
- alpha (i.e. semi-relaxed (i.e. at 'twilight'))
- theta (i.e. REM (rapid eye movement) (i.e. 'dreaming')
- delta (i.e. deep sleep, where the adrenal gland is rejuvenated)
levels of sleep.
Importance of the "Delta sleep"
Getting into the delta sleep is extremely important but much easier said than done. Some people naturally fall into this cycle of sleep every night with no problems whatsoever. Others (like myself) have a much, much harder time doing so. Stress, anxiety, tasks and all the implications of modern life and emotion are all factors that can contribute to the hinderance of 'delta sleep'. When we fail to go into the delta sleep (at all) the adrenal glands (those responsible for secreting cortisol) do not have a chance to recover from their tasks during the day. They will only recover if we allow them to do so.
The potential role of Binaural Therapy as a solution to sleep problems
A lot of people out there are trying to find ways to help with their adrenal fatigue, whether it be diet, exercise and more. While these can all positively contribute to living a happier and healthier lifestyle it does very little (if anything) for adrenal health if we do not get the right kind of sleep.
Because sleep is such an important factor in preventing chronic stress (and in turn, adrenal fatigue), I decided to focus on ways in which I could get myself into a deeper sleep. Melatonin can be effective in some individuals as can calcium and other supplements. Taking these products over a period of time, however, could increase dependence on them.
As a result, I decided to try what Dr. Jerry Block MD, FACP in tulsa (as you saw in the video at the top) recommends. That is, the use of binaural therapy.
A favourite of mine...
About binaural therapy
There are plenty of resources available on the Internet including youtube videos and more. There are ones that are designed to be more for general purpose while others are designed more specifically for particular brain waves.
I personally listen to a ten-minute one (with headphones, of course) in order to get the best effects just before I go to bed. I generally alternated between videos and preferably choose ones that specifically relate to getting down into the deep 'delta' levels of sleep, as this is primarily where I am challenged at this time.
Over the past month that I've been doing this, I have noticed dramatic improvements in my sleeping patterns and my body seems to have been able to heal itself more efficiently than I had previously imagined. I feel younger and more energetic than I have in years!