Sunday, October 1, 2023

How To Lower Morning Cortisol

Figure Out Your Stress Triggers

How to Help Low Morning Cortisol

Stress and cortisol are closely interlinked. A stressor is any stimuli that causes anxiety or stress. It can be something physical or psychological, like a threat to your safety or an unexpected change to your environment. It could also be pain, financial worries, relationship issues, or work-related problems.

When your body is exposed to stress, cortisol is released to keep the body on high alert and can even provide much needed energy, an important factor in the fight or flight response. Therefore, stressful situations increase cortisol production.

Understanding your own triggers is vital if you want lower cortisol levels. Keep a journal to record stressful situations. You dont have to go into detail, but make a note of what happened and consider why it made you feel bad.

You can use this information to find practical ways of managing these situations. For example, stepping away from arguments, learning to say no to extra work, and avoiding unnecessary triggers are good places to start.

How To Lower Cortisol In The Morning

Cortisol is a glucocorticoid hormone that is released when stressors occur. It plays a critical role in maintaining homeostasis and balancing energy for the body. It is responsible for various physiologic processes such as the stress response. Cortisol is also a strong modulator of the immune system and the brain, affecting metabolism, cognition and behavior.

How These Methods For Lowering Cortisol Are Working For Me

Ive noticed a huge improvement from adding sea salt to all my meals in just 2 days. I felt like I had a lot more energy from it. The magnesium flake foot baths have also been helping a lot! I feel an immediate difference after doing it each time.

Have you ever had high cortisol? Do you have any other tips that have helped you reduce cortisol?

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Consume A Healthy Balanced Diet

Cortisol-friendly foods have long been a topic of research. Consumption of high fat/high carbohydrate foods, which exist rarely in nature, is linked to HPA axis dysregulation and an overall increase in cortisol levels . Conversely, diets low in carbohydrate intake are also linked to higher cortisol levels, especially in females .

Similarly, long-term low-calorie dieting can also increase cortisol levels and disrupt sleep . Overall, a healthy balanced diet with adequate high-quality carbohydrates and adequate vitamins and minerals is your best bet to achieving ideal cortisol secretion patterns. If weight loss is desired, consider shorter periods of calorie deficits intermixed with periods of maintenance calories to minimize the stress response from dieting.

Related resource to check out:Preventing Stress-Related Weight Gain

Cut Out Caffeine Or Consume Less

Adrenal Fatigue Morning Cortisol

A 2005 study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that caffeine increases cortisol secretion even in people at rest. Because caffeine can stimulate cortisol production and increase blood pressure, Krista King, MS, RDN, of Composed Nutrition, offers a solution to lower cortisol: “Try doing a caffeine reset. Gradually you have each day by swapping it out for a caffeine-free or lower caffeine alternative.”

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How To Reduce Cortisol In The Morning

Most people struggle with their sleep, especially during the first two weeks of a new work week. When youre trying to get up earlier than normal, you need to be careful that you dont go to sleep later than normal. Remember that you are training your brain to wake up early. This is a process that needs to take some time.

The Diurnal Cortisol Trend

To capture the cortisol variation during the day, a 4-point diurnal cortisol test measures cortisol levels from four different times of the day to assess the daily trend. This requires collecting four saliva samples within 24 hours.

The first sample collection is around 30 minutes after waking up. This is the time when levels are highest and change quickly.

The sketch on top of this page shows the quick change in morning levels. Ideally, several samples should be collected early in the morning to precisely know the peak, but that might be practically difficult and expensive.

Therefore, it is extremely important to ensure proper protocol is followed in sample collection for best results. It helps to know the trend of morning cortisol variation and the factors affecting it.

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How To Get Your Cortisol Tested:

Youll want to do an AM cortisol blood test which is done fasting, preferably 20 minutes after waking up because thats when your cortisol spikes to its highest. Even better than just doing that one test, would be the 24 hour cortisol test because this will give more information on your cortisol levels throughout the day and at night. If you have a good primary/internal medicine doctor they may test it for you this way, otherwise an endocrinologist or naturopath should be willing to do it.

High Cortisol Levels Throughout The Day

My Cortisol Reducing Morning Routine [Burn Belly Fat + Reduce Cortisol]

Cortisol spikes in response to stressors like work deadlines, environmental pollution, and inadequate sleep. Ongoing high levels of cortisol can be caused by too much coffee, a lack of carbs throughout the day, or an intensive focus on schedules. If cortisol levels stay elevated, youre wired but your adrenals are getting tired. It feels like:

  • Youre constantly behind schedule and racing to catch up.
  • Youre exhausted and hyper at the same time.
  • People comment on how fast you talk.
  • Youre easily irritated and feel little enthusiasm for anything.

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What Causes Morning Anxiety

There are many reasons why you may be experiencing morning anxiety and one of them being under constant stress or stressful situations.

Subsequently, cortisol also known as the stress hormone is released by the adrenal glands which seem to be at its highest concentration in the first hour after waking up, especially if you are under constant stress.

Moreover, the elevated cortisol is naturally higher in the morning so there is nothing we can actually do to stop it from raising slightly.

However, there are some things you can actually do to prevent it from reaching a peak.

According to Sara Lindberg from Healthline, What you eat and drink first thing in the morning can also contribute to higher levels of anxiety in the early hours of the day. Caffeine and sugar can increase anxiety symptoms. But low blood sugar due to a lack of food can make anxiety symptoms worse.

In addition, it is believed sugar could have a major role when there is an insulin burst, blood sugar levels drop worsening your anxiety symptoms.there are some health conditions associated with triggering anxiety such as heart disease, hypertension, or diabetes.

In contrast, there are other related problems that are not necessarily linked to physiological activities such as having troubles at work, school, home, financial difficulties, or your personal relationships.

If you suspect you might have GAD, seek help from a mental health professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

How To Decrease Cortisol In The Morning

You can do several things to decrease cortisol in the morning. Try to reduce caffeine and alcohol intake to prevent too much stress in the morning. When you are stressed out, your body releases cortisol, which can increase your risk of stress-related health problems. Try to exercise or meditate at least an hour before you start your day to reduce the cortisol levels in your body. Also, take a warm shower and drink plenty of water before you start your day. Keeping your body properly hydrated can also help reduce cortisol. You should also eat breakfast every day. Studies have shown that those who eat breakfast typically have lower cortisol levels.

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Do Things That Make You Happy

Whether its connecting with friends and family or trying out a new hobby, spending time doing things that make you genuinely happy may help reduce stress and lower cortisol levels. Improving your disposition to become more positive can be a big part of improving your overall health. Studies show that positive affect can not only decrease cortisol, but also improve heart rate, blood pressure, and inflammatory markers. One study even found that laughter can decrease stress.

Foods That Help Lower Cortisol Levels And Weight Gain

5 Natural Ways to Lower Cortisol

Listed below are some of the best foods that help lower cortisol levels. Try working these nutritious foods into your daily diet.

Asparagus contains folate, a B-vitamin which helps reduce cortisol production in the body by reducing inflammation in your body, returning blood vessels to their normal state, and reduces your body’s sensitivity to adrenaline.

Like asparagus, avocados contain folate. In addition, avocados contain glutathione, a substance that keeps the body from absorbing fats that can cause oxidization damage in your body.

Containing high levels of anthocyanin, an antioxidant, berries are also a good source of vitamin C, which has been shown to lower blood pressure, cortisol production, and overall stress in test subjects.

Providing a much-needed source of protein and fat, cashews also provide a source of zinc, which helps fight anxiety and depression, leading causes of stress, which leads to cortisol production.

High in antioxidants, chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can help lower blood pressure and increases your feeling of calm. Chocolate also contains polyphenols and flavonols, antioxidants that help protect your body from free radicals.

While green tea does contain caffeine, it also has L-theanine, an amino acid that counteracts the tendency of caffeine to encourage the body to produce cortisol. Green tea also boosts your mental performance, with brain fog a side effect of high cortisol levels.

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So How Do You Know If Your Cortisol Levels Are High

Underlying physical issues can also result in high cortisol levels, such as: hormonal imbalances, gut bacterial dysbiosis , thyroid dysfunction, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, food sensitivities.

The nice thing is that with modern science, there are tests that you can take to determine if this is the root cause. You can simply go to a naturopathic or functional medical doctor and ask for a health panel, or if you want to work with me, the same lab test is included in my Sleep Like a Boss program.

Get A Good Nights Sleep

Sleep deprivation increases cortisol, particularly the evening after the lack of sleep has occurred. Cortisol is produced by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is also responsible for regulating sleep cycles. If the HPA axis is activated by stress, illness, or poor nutrition, it can have a knock-on effect on your sleep and subsequent stress hormone levels.

The best way to ensure you get restful sleep is to incorporate good sleep hygiene. Make your bedroom a peaceful environment by limiting things that disrupt your sleep, like noise and light. Blackout curtains, an eye mask, earplugs, or a noise machine can help.

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Role Of Difference In Collection Time

Research shows inaccurate reporting of morning cortisol collection time is more common than realized. The recorded time is often late, and can impact the results.

Careful monitoring of actual wake up time versus self-reported time showed 1 in 5 people actually woke up earlier than what they had reported. This could be anywhere between 5 mins to 30 mins. For 1 in 7 people, this gap was over 30 minutes.

However, any difference over 15 minutes can cause significant variation in results.

Difference of 5 to 10 minutes at the beginning, right after breaking the sleep is likely not critical, since the rise in cortisol levels few minutes after waking up is still small.

But anything after first 15 minutes starts to have an impact due to steep rise in the levels at this time.

Researchers have identified multiple reasons why people collect their morning samples later than expected:

  • Avoiding the discomfort of collection.

  • Might need to prioritize other responsibilities.

  • Sleep inertia, being half-asleep without being fully mentally awake and no body movement. That makes it difficult to identify exact time of waking up, despite well-intentioned efforts.

Care For Your Gut Microbiome

How To Lower High Cortisol Naturally

Your gut health and mental health are linked via the gut-brain connection. This is a network of nerves, chemical messengers, and the trillions of microbes that make up your gut microbiome.

Evidence suggests a connection between stress and the gut microbiome. If youre looking to lower stress and cortisol levels, building a healthy and diverse gut microbiome may help.

Eating probiotic foods like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and live yogurt is a good way to improve your gut microbiome. Probiotic foods are any foods with good gut bugs that, when eaten, benefit your health.

Similarly, prebiotics are another important component of a well-balanced and gut-friendly diet. They serve as food for your good gut bugs, and evidence suggests they may also help lower cortisol levels.

In one study with 69 students, those who consumed a daily probiotic drink saw significantly lower cortisol levels than the control group after 12 weeks.

To improve your gut health, focus on eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains, and aim to eat a rainbow of 30 different plant foods per week.

Getting regular exercise, enough sleep, and looking after your mental health are also good for your gut microbiome and your cortisol levels.

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How To Lower Cortisol Naturally To Boost Your Well

So, how to lower cortisol levels naturally when you need to?

You may have heard that certain foods like dark chocolate and green tea decrease cortisol supply. The same can be said for an anti-inflammatory, healthy diet comprising unprocessed foods like whole grains and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

That said, what you eat doesnât make up the entirety of your game plan on how to lower cortisol when you want it low . Instead, itâs very much about positive lifestyle changes in the form of healthy sleep hygiene and stress reduction techniques.

Why Should You Try To Lower Cortisol Levels

Increased cortisol levels can have many negative consequences, especially in the body. Its normal for cortisol levels to spike when you wake up, but once your cortisol level increases, it wont go down. This is one of the main reasons that cortisol levels peak in the morning. Cortisol is a stress hormone and if its elevated, it can cause many issues, including insomnia. Other side effects of increased cortisol include:

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Rewire Your Sleep Schedule

Sleeping in time with your bodys biorhythms and getting enough quality sleep can help you lower your cortisol levels naturally. Time, length, and quality of sleep have all been found to influence cortisol levels, so optimizing your sleep cycle from start to finish plays an important role in lowering cortisol levels. Ideally, getting to bed by 10 p.m. will help you avoid a late evening cortisol spike which could make it hard to get to sleep and sleep soundly. This also takes advantage of natural melatonin production, which starts around sunset to help you wind down.

Research in the Journal of Nursing Research found that shift workers who sleep during the day have higher daytime cortisol and get less sleep per day than people who sleep at night, so if your job allows, its best to adjust your sleep schedule accordingly. And if you have little control over when you get to sleep, do your best to create a good sleep routinelike avoiding caffeine and alcohol and limiting screen time before bedto optimize the sleep you do get.

Cortisol And Stress: The Basics

Morning Exercise And Cortisol

Cortisol is one of several hormones the body produces naturally. Cortisol levels do go up when youre stressed. But it doesnt deserve its bad rap.

Cortisol supports overall health, Dr. Lin says. It helps us wake up, gives us energy during the day and lowers at night to help us sleep and rest.

The problem arises when chronic stress keeps cortisol levels high for the long haul. High cortisol levels over weeks or months can lead to inflammation and a host of mental and physical health problems, from anxiety to weight gain to heart disease.

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Morning Anxiety And The Cortisol Awakening Response

Photo by Joice Kelly on Unsplash

I wake up with my heart racing and my skin tingling. My chest is tight and my muscles are tense. My stomach hurts. I close my eyes but that only makes it worse. This is how I wake up almost every morning. I go to bed tired, hoping to sleep in on a Sunday, only to wake up tired at 7:00 unable to fall back asleep. My body is anxious and I dont know why.

Feeling anxious in the morning is common for people with and without anxiety disorders, says Mayra Mendez, PhD, a licensed psychotherapist. While research on morning anxiety is limited, the experience is common, and putting a name to these feelings can bring some relief.

As someone with a diagnosed anxiety disorder, I still struggle to understand what Im feeling, why Im feeling it, and how to manage it. Youre not alone!

Whats causing my morning anxiety?

Thinking about everything you have to do in the day from work to family to exercise can contribute to the anxiety you feel when waking up. While thinking about the list in need of completing for the day can be stressful all on its own, a biological process known as the Cortisol Awakening Response plays a role too.

Although anyone can experience morning anxiety, those with existing anxiety disorders are more likely to experience it. Anxiety can sometimes be useful to get healthy individuals thinking about how to manage their day, but its much more likely to be paralyzing for people with anxiety disorders.

Whats the bottom line?

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