Circadian rhythms are your body’s tide and they control your body’s natural ebb and flow. Stress and adrenal function affect sleep, particularly the circadian pattern of cortisol secretion by the adrenal gland. Every time the wake/sleep cycle is altered, it takes several days to weeks for the body and cortisol levels to adjust, if you do not take any preventative measures such as…
- Implementing quality essential fatty acids: Chia seeds, avocado, oils, coconut, Omega 3 oils, nuts and salmon.
- Not grabbing the caffeine or sugar to counterbalance your low energy: Try having herbal tea with a bit of honey and laying down to rest for 5 minutes
- Visualization and meditation: Taking 15 minutes out of your day to re-group could save your mental state and your family:)
- Turning off technology for 1-3 hours before bed.
- Becoming a Be-er vs a Do-er. Most people react in fight or flight mode vs a more gentle state of mind.
Melatonin, the hormone that controls sleep, is usually released in the evening. But when you are in a chronic state of fatigue, it could be released in the middle of the afternoon, causing mid day drowsiness. Cortisol, the hormone that controls your metabolism, cardiovascular function, immune system, and appetite, is usually released in the morning, however people who get their “second wind” in the evening may be releasing cortisol and is disrupting the body’s natural progress toward sleep. Circulating cortisol normally rises and falls throughout the 24-hour daily cycle, and is typically highest at around 8 AM and lowest between midnight and 4 AM. Both high and low nighttime cortisol levels can interrupt sound sleep.
Chronic lack of sleep is now regarded as a health hazard and can cause many symptoms including; lowered immunity with increased susceptibility to infections, impaired glucose tolerance, low morning cortisol levels, and increased carbohydrate cravings, elevate circulating estrogen levels, upset hormonal balance, and slow healing and prolong the recovery period.
Cortisol plays an important role in maintaining blood sugar levels around the clock. When low cortisol and low glycogen reserves coincide, blood glucose will most likely drop, disrupting sleep. Waking between 1 AM and 3 AM may indicate low blood sugar resulting from inadequate glycogen reserves in the liver, low adrenal function and cortisol, or both. This is often the culprit when panic or anxiety attacks, nightmares, or fitful, restless sleep occur between 1 and 4 AM.
This all doesn’t mean you have to rush to bed and never stay up past 10 pm, however, try to add in more support to help your body recalibrate to its natural rhythm. Keep a sleep and energy log to make note of what times of day your body needs more support. For example, one time I noticed my body unusually shut down at 11 am, I kept “fighting” that I didn’t have time to rest right then. I finally laid down and 20 minutes later I felt like a new person. When in your day have you been fighting or not listening to your body’s natural rhythm?
Heather Fleming, C.C.N