Basically, when you sit, your blood is all in your body and circulating in your head. But when you stand up quickly, there is a time lapse between your blood being pushed up against gravity into your head. Your adrenal glands are responsible for secreting the chemical into your body to increase blood pressure to keep the blood in the brain. If the adrenal glands are fatigued, there is a delay and your brain momentarily lacks sufficient blood. This is a formal test in the medical world called the “Ragland Blood Pressure Test” where you can measure your blood pressure from laying down or sitting down to standing and there should be an increase in the amount of blood pressure when you stand up so the blood is forced up into the brain against gravity (http://www.drlwilson.com/articles/adrenal_insufficiency.htm).
As a smart self-defense mechanism, the brain makes your feel dizzy if it lacks sufficient blood because it’s a strong signal to sit or lay down, allowing for easier flow of blood into the brain. Clinically, I see 3 stages of adrenal fatigue based on the Raglan Sign: Stage 1 is when you feel just dizzy. Stage 2 fatigue is when you see spots of lights or changes in your vision because now there is not enough blood flow to support the part of your brain that controls vision (call the “occipital lobe” of your brain). If vision part of your brain doesn’t have enough blood, the nerves begin to fire randomly and you experience random visual phenomena like lights, black spots, etc. Stage 3 fatigue is when you black out, which is the body’s self defense mechanism to get you on the floor as quickly as possible to pool blood to your brain to make sure you don’t damage your brain from lack of circulation. There is a very scary medical word for lack of sufficient blood to the brain, it’s called a stroke. It may seem odd, but from a bigger picture standpoint, your body’s innate intelligence is causing you to faint in order to prevent a stroke.
The most important thing you can do if you are dizzy, see lights, or faint when you stand up too quickly is to a) see if you’re dehydrated, and then b) get evaluated for adrenal fatigue so that your adrenal glands are strong and resilient, not just for you to be able to get up safely, but also for your ability to handle stressors from all aspects of life.
If you have any of these signs when you stand up too quickly you may have adrenal fatigue. If you want help to reverse your adrenal fatigue, fill out this survey here.