Cortisol Has Feelings Too: Why Can’t I Sleep?

by Fat Loss, Hormones, Sleep

We live in a ridiculously stressful world, if that’s how you choose to perceive it but that’s an article for another deep dive day, which I won’t go into right now.

Everywhere we look there is a pressure to perform, relationships, work, family, friends, social media all places you’re given targets and new expectations to live up to every day of your life. 

You work longer, go home to false light pushing your bed times later, waking times earlier followed by a chill at the weekend you lay in, eat crap then get mentally prepared to do it again the following week.

Can easily push you over the edge.

Living in this state for a long while produces chronic stress levels, which leaves us in a state of vulnerability with our health where we just get told, ‘you’re stressed, lower your cortisol’.

If you’re one of the millions who wake during the night for a trip to the toilet or simple find your mind racing at 4am not able to get back to sleep you’re going to want to read on, I won’t go into depths but you will get a basic idea before I continue on the subject in future articles to get you where you want to be.


What Is Cortisol?

It’s actually a hormone produced in the adrenal glands released into the blood stream then sent all around your body assisting with different actions including memory function, salt and water balance, blood pressure and the main function which is controlling the body’s blood glucose levels. All triggered by the HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis).

We need cortisol, it helps us wake up, we need it to be able to control our memory, get the right balance of water and make sure our blood pressure isn’t out of whack but also, if we don’t have enough glucose in our blood you’re going to struggle to get energy into the cells where you can use it, it’s a pretty important hormone.

When we wake up we SHOULD have higher levels of cortisol, with our predetermined circadian rhythm as a ‘human’ thing, we have a rough set time our body wakes and needs to sleep at night, determined on the rise and fall of the sun. As we go through the day cortisol is supposed to drop, and in a healthy individual this will happen, you’ll be able to relax more making sure you get to sleep and through the night you have an unbroken night sleep for 7 or so hours.

The problem, before we even get to the impact of the chronic stress you’ve been under working on getting that promotion or simply hit your targets for the month end, we have so much technology shooting out blue light and simulating the effect of the sun keeping our brains switched on not letting that cortisol wind down the way it should (that’s highly simplified). 

We are talking those nights you’re staying up to watch some crap like Love Island, just catching the next Netflix series, scrolling and trolling and even simply hitting work deadlines on your laptop. This is all has an impact.

Now, instead of having that wind down and if we looked at it in a graph the natural curve and lowering throughout the day from high to low we then end up artificially stimulating cortisol in the evening, waking our body up thinking it’s morning getting you ready to go again, see why this is a problem?

This causes some major issues throughout if you’re not already beyond that high cortisol phase and your body has just given up producing cortisol which is another predicament we could talk about even more, these issues are things like:

  • Lower back, face and abdominal weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Weaknesses in muscles
  • Lowered energy
  • Anxiety
  • More toilet trips
  • Lowered sex drive
  • Irregular and even stopped periods

That’s just to name a few, then we get extreme levels of these when you’re groggy in the mornings through consistent chronic stress and your body not wanting to even kick that cortisol out to start your day, not fun.

You can see from here why your body may be waking you up simply from cortisol mismanagement before we even go into the nutrition side of things and potential vitamin deficiencies stopping your body being able to complete processes needed to keep you asleep through the night.

I mean, it’s entirely up to you if you’re that addicted to watching TV shows you could record and playback in a better time or want to scroll Facebook, that’s totally fine, but understand that this has a massive impact on your sleep levels which you could improve yourself to increase your health before even thinking about diet, exercise or anything of the like.

The choice is yours.