Allanah Robinson-Cook – Naturopath
Many of us are starting to understand the negative health implications of stress. Chronic stress is now widely understood as a major causative factor of ill-health including mental health disorders, hormone imbalance, digestive dysfunction, and poor quality of – sleep,
Our stress hormone cortisol impacts the body’s ability to rest, digest, and repair. With increasing stress levels tied with poor sleep quality, we are stuck in a state of ‘fight or flight’ triggered by elevated cortisol.
Below is a chart of how a healthy cortisol pattern:
Cortisol should be highest just before we wake, to help us feel energised in the morning. It should then decrease in the evening when we are getting ready to sleep.
The hormones cortisol & melatonin counter balance each other, dictating our circadian rhythm. When we view light in the morning our adrenal glands will release cortisol to energise us. At night the darkness triggers melatonin release from the brain to help us sleep. Elevated cortisol levels in the evening will block our sleep hormone melatonin from being released, affecting our sleep.
There are quite a few things that you can do to optimise your cortisol, to positively impact your energy during the day and sleep in the evening.
- Optimising your night routine – more on this to come!
- Viewing sunlight within the first 30 minutes of waking.
- Exercise during the day (not too close to bedtime).
- Prioritise protein intake (aim for at least 1g per kg of bodyweight daily).
- Avoid foods such as coffee, refined sugar, and alcohol.
- Addressing magnesium deficiency, if applicable.
- Taking herbs (such as a tea or naturopathic herbal tincture) or a personalised nutraceutical compound to address cortisol levels.