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When You Can’t Sleep …

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So, last week we had a chat about one of the reasons that a good night’s sleep is really the cure for a lot of things.

This week, it’s about cortisol – which is a really important hormone, secreted by the small organs each sitting on top of each kidney. Cortisol is the one that prepares a person for ‘fight or flight’ when necessary.

When you are exposed to light after a period of darkness – which helps releases melatonin – the release of cortisol happens, because the body senses a form of stress. As far as your body is concerned, light means daytime, and daytime is the time for action. So your cortisol levels rise as the sun rises, and peak between 6 and 9am. The levels remain high through midday as you need it to support your activities. Levels begin to drop in the afternoon and even more so as the sun goes down. This decrease allows your body’s growth and repair hormones, and melatonin, to begin to be released.

Cortisol also helps with the performance of the following bodily functions:
– Stimulates glucose production when your body needs energy
– Promotes storage of glucose when your body needs to conserve energy
– Stimulates fatty acid release into your blood stream to release energy. This is fine when you’ve just woken up and you need all that energy to power you through the day. This is why cortisol levels are highest in the morning, before noon. They really should start dropping from then on, and only rise when called to do so in response to an emergency or stressor that need you to either fight or flee for your life. Cortisol release was never meant to be sustained or chronic
– Makes the thyroid hormones work more efficiently
– Regulates your immune system and keeps it from going into overdrive and attacking your own healthy cells (‘auto-immunity’)
– Helps regulate your blood pressure due to its effect on your blood sodium level. Too much cortisol will raise your blood pressure
– Regulates your connective tissue strength. Too much cortisol will make you wrinkle faster. The right balance won’t.

Dr. Nkem Ezeilo (aka Dr kem) is a GP and Healthy Lifestyle Advocate. She enables people to empower themselves by taking control of their health, thus improving the quality of their lives. Sign up here to receive her free eBook “10 Big Lies That Are Keeping You Sick, Fat and Tired All The Time” and you will be plugged in to receive the Healthy Lifestyle Newsletter.

DISCLAIMER: The afore-mentioned information is not intended to replace consultation with a physician or to diagnose or treat any condition. Please, see your doctor without delay if you have any symptoms that you are unsure of. Do not stop taking any prescribed medication or start any lifestyle changes without your own doctor’s supervision.

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