Cortisol is your body’s main stress hormone and plays a role in controlling our mood, motivation and fear or what is commonly referred to as your ‘Flight, Fight or Freeze’ response.
Our Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR) is a measure of the amount of cortisol you naturally produce on waking.
To get you out of bed in the morning and be ready to start your day, you ideally want a sharp rise in cortisol production (average rise is 50% within 30 minutes of waking), which then peaks and drops off within 60 minutes of waking and throughout the day. Conversely, to easily fall asleep at night and promote restorative rest you want much less cortisol produced in the early part of the evening. For some people their CAR is flipped and instead of a sharp rise in the morning they experience either a drop, plateau or excessive rise. If your CAR and cortisol pattern is not in equilibrium this can impact many functions of your body and areas in your life such as anxiety, stress, insomnia, high blood pressure, diabetes, insulin resistance, weight gain, poor memory, concentration and even your gut health.
Lockdown due to COVID –19 has certainly impacted us all in many ways. Some of us are going to bed later and others are waking up even earlier or throughout the night, maybe drinking more alcohol and eating at different times of the day. We have additional and unforeseen stressors in our lives trying to juggle work and family life and the uncertainty of how the world may change for the immediate and foreseeable future can no doubt cause anxiety and fears in us that we never had before. Prolonged anxiety, fear and stress can also change our CAR in ways that cause a cascade of other issues as mentioned above.
If you suspect your CAR may be out of rhythm because you are experiencing symptoms such as, unable to fall asleep, waking in the night or too early, feeling tired and suffering from brain fog, and/or experiencing appetite changes and cravings, then it may be the perfect opportunity to take a look at your cortisol patterns. A good sign that your CAR is out of whack is asking yourself whether you can make the switch in the morning? Do you wake naturally and easily, ready to start your day within 20-30 minutes of waking? Or are you struggling to get out of bed, needing multiple cups of coffee or even feel anxious?
The amount of cortisol you produce at different time points throughout the day can easily be tested (all done very simply at home) to look at this pattern, and then depending on your results we use diet, sleep and targeted supplements to correct your cortisol levels so that you can get back on track. Sometimes the obvious is not so clear when we accept things to be just ‘ok’. Use this time to look at your health and seek a healthier and happier version of yourself.
If you would like to learn more about your CAR contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help you.