Back to science class. Remember learning about your adrenals?
Cortisol comes from your adrenal glands and is directly responsible for stress. Normally, it's present in the body at higher levels in the morning, and at its lowest at night. Although stress isn’t the only reason that cortisol is secreted into the bloodstream, it has been termed “the stress hormone” because it’s also secreted in higher levels during the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response to stress, and is responsible for several stress-related changes in the body.
While cortisol is an important and helpful part of the body’s response to stress, it’s important that the body’s relaxation response to be activated so the body’s functions can return to normal following a stressful event.
Unfortunately, in our current high-stress culture, the body’s stress response is activated so often that the body doesn’t always have a chance to return to normal, resulting in a state of chronic stress.
Positive Effects of Cortisol:
- A quick burst of energy for survival reasons
- Heightened memory functions
- A burst of increased immunity
- Lower sensitivity to pain
- Helps maintain homeostasis in the body
Negative Effects of Cortisol:
- Impaired cognitive performance
- Suppressed thyroid function
- Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia
- Decreased bone density
- Decrease in muscle tissue
- Higher blood pressure
- Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and other health consequences
- Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks, strokes, the development of metabolic syndrome, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), which can lead to other health problems.
Why Sleep is So Important:
Higher subjective ratings of stress during the day are associated with poorer sleep. Conversely, poorer sleep is associated with higher ratings of stress during the day. Here are some tips for better sleep:
- Establish regular bedtime and wake time
- Avoid looking at bright light (TV, computer) at least 1 hour before bedtime, and keep room as dark as possible.
- Have a small snack of complex carbs and protein before bed to avoid low blood sugar during the night. This raises cortisol and is the reason you wake.
- Turn off your phone
- Use a 'white noise' to relax or dampen sounds
- Avoid high intensity work-outs at night
- Socialize with friends. It relieves stress and supports adrenals.
- Practice some form of relaxation (yoga, meditation, long walks)
We can help you sleep better and get your cortisol levels on track. CLICK HERE to book a consultation.