Sleep plays an important role in our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Getting enough sleep helps to reduce stress levels and boosts immunity, but did you know that hormones such as cortisol can have a significant effect on your sleep quality? In this article, we will explore the role of cortisol in the body and how it impacts our sleep cycle.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands which acts as a natural stress response system. It prepares the body for fight or flight situations by increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, and energy levels. In general, cortisol is at its highest levels in the morning when you wake up, gradually reducing throughout the day until it reaches its lowest level at night before bedtime.
How Does Cortisol Affect Sleep?
When cortisol levels are too high during nighttime hours, they can interfere with your ability to fall asleep quickly or remain asleep through the night. High cortisol levels cause your body to be over-stimulated which can lead to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Cortisol also affects melatonin production which further contributes to poor-quality sleep.
What Can I Do To Regulate My Cortisol Levels?
There are several strategies you can implement to help keep your cortisol levels balanced so that you can get better quality sleep each night.
First, create a calming nighttime routine that consists of activities such as reading or taking a warm bath before bedtime. This will help slow down your mind and body so that it’s easier for you to fall asleep more quickly. Exercise regularly throughout the day as this can help reduce stress levels and lower cortisol production at night.
Additionally, practice mindful breathing techniques or meditation before bedtime since these activities can help relax both your mind and body in preparation for sleep.
Finally, limit caffeine intake especially close to bedtime as caffeine is known to increase cortisol production which further disrupts your natural sleep cycle.
Are There Any Supplements That Can Help Control Cortisol Levels?
Certain supplements may also be beneficial in controlling cortisol levels and improving overall sleep quality. Magnesium has been found to reduce feelings of stress that contribute to elevated cortisol levels while 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) has been shown to increase serotonin production which helps promote better quality sleep throughout the night. Ashwagandha root extract has also been used traditionally for centuries as a natural remedy for insomnia due its calming effects on both mind and body through reducing anxiety-induced cortisol production.
Cortisol plays an important role in our overall health since it serves as a natural stress response system but too much of it can interfere with our ability to get good quality sleep each night. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to regulate your cortisol levels such as creating a calming nightly routine, exercising regularly throughout the day or practicing mindful breathing techniques before bedtime. With these simple steps you’ll be able to improve your sleep quality each night so that you wake up feeling refreshed and energised.