Why do I feel better at night than during the day?

February 26, 2016

TL;DR:
Answer: ADRENAL (MF’N) FATIGUE!

Confirm by going to a functional medicine doctor or someone practicing the kalish method, and getting a cortisol spit test. Probably won’t be covered by insurance unfortunately but worth it. Cost me $150 for initial doctor visit + $150 for spit test. And bunch more $$ for the hormone & supplements. It’s working for me. Time for recovery is 6 months to ~2yrs, depending on severity.

LONG:
I’ve been wondering about this question for many years. I feel terrible in the morning. Like my brain is on frizz. Like I don’t even know who I am anymore. Like I’m a baby being rudely smacked on the ass and being brought into the brand new world. Low to no energy. Some days, I can’t even get out of bed.

In the evening though (6pm or 8pm), I start feeling normal again. Happy, focused, energized. For the longest time, I stayed up all night. Until 2a to 4am. Because that was my sweet spot. But as soon as I woke up the next day, the cycle would repeat.

At first, I thought it was a personality defect.
aka, me being lazy. Maybe I just need to toughen up and ride it out like everyone else? And go to bed earlier. Of course, this turned out to be an incorrect assumption.

Later, I realized it was depression.
So I supplemented with Tyrosine (and coffee) to get lit up in the morning. It worked, for a while. But something wasn’t right. Why should my body feel deflated every morning without my caffeine crutch?

Adrenal Fatigue
By trial and error and chance, I ended up at a functional medicine doctor last month. And he recommended a cortisol spit test, to see my levels during the day. I had 4 out of the 5 major symptoms for adrenal fatigue, according to The Kalish Method. Weight gain, depression, lethargy, and digestive problems. Did not have female hormone issues, for (hopefully) obvious reasons!

The results came back positive. Stage 3 adrenal fatigue.

adrenalfatiguechart
The triangle represents the reference high range
The diamond reps the low range.
The x shows my levels, which is well below the acceptable low range.

Cortisol is supposed to rise in the morning and slowly decline throughout the day until you fall asleep.

For people with adrenal fatigue, there is not enough cortisol being produced. And the body hoards what little it has for emergency situations. Once evening/night time hits, the body floods the reserve cortisol, thus getting us reenergized.

Since then, I’ve been on pregnenonlone, licorice root extract, vitamin c, adaptogenic herbs and supplements. Eating every 2-3hours on a cleaner diet. Relaxation methods. Reducing too much stimulation, even on tv shows or movies. Reducing cardio and exhaustive workouts. Trying to sleep earlier, by 10pm. Because after this period (around 11pm), the adrenals release another shot of cortisol and we will stay up even longer. This taxes the adrenals more. I break some or most of these rules occasionally but have been feeling much better.

NOTE:
I guess conventional medicine does not recognize adrenal fatigue as a real symptom. But integrative/functional/holistic doctors are seeing this as a real problem and offer tests and solutions. So if you go to your regular medical doctor, she may not know what you’re talking about or recommend a blood test, which is not the same as the spit test.

Resources:
The Kalish Method Summary
Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome – Dr. James Wilson, the definitive book
The Real Deal on Adrenal Fatigue – Robb Wolf
7 Signs your cortisol and adrenals are broken – Ben Greenfield
Biohealth Labs Adrenal Profile Tests – need doctors orders, $150
ZRT LABS – does not need doc orders, $170