If you can stay up late but have trouble waking in the morning, your cortisol rhythm may be skewed. Cortisol is your “get-up-and-go” hormone. It moves you from a parasympathetic restful state into action. Normally, it is highest in the morning, and gradually declines over the course of the day, until it reachest its lowest point around midnight – during your deep sleep.
Since cortisol is produced in the adrenals, disrupted cortisol cycles often point to some form of adrenal overload. Adrenals – tiny glands that sit on top of the kidneys – can be burdened by environmental toxins, food allergies, sleep deprivation, and many other factors. But the most prominent causes in the American lifestyle today are excess sugar intake and stress.
Excess sugar intake is considered by the American Heart Association to be no more than 9.5 teaspoons (or 47.5 grams) per day. Estimates in 2012 placed consumption at 3 times that much.
Love you adrenals with these measures:
- Eat whole, not processed foods
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and refined sugar (watch food labels!)
- Get adequate protein (roughly 1/3 of your daily calories)
- Go to bed earlier (optimally around 10 p.m.) and sleep for 8 hours
- Manage stress daily with laughter, nurturing, meditation, and deep-breathing
- Engage in light to moderate exercise
- Get outside as much as possible. Natural light is essential to healthy adrenal function.
Working with a health practitioner to obtain supplemental adrenal support may be necessary to normalize your cortisol output.