Today we live in a society where advertisers know that difficulties with sleep are common. If you think about it, how many energy drink and coffee commercials boast about how to stop feeling tired, especially in the morning? Most of them do. Why is this so common? It is because of stress (physical, chemical, and mental), diet, and lack of exercise. One of the main components of our response to stress is a hormone called cortisol.

What does cortisol do?

Cortisol is a hormone that is released throughout the day to stabilize blood glucose levels between meals (including during sleep). It is released from glands that sit on top of each of your kidneys. Cortisol functions in a normal rhythmic pattern (cycle). Cortisol should be high in the AM, gradually decline throughout the day, and be low before you go to bed.

If your sleep patterns are affected by cortisol imbalance, you will experience difficulty either falling asleep or staying asleep.

If your cortisol is high before bed you will have a hard time falling asleep because cortisol excites your brain function, so you can’t relax and go to sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 65 percent of Americans report experiencing a sleep problem, such as difficulty falling asleep, waking during the night, and waking feeling unrefreshed at least a few times each week, with nearly half (44%) of those saying they experience that sleep problem almost every night. If this is something you struggle with, know that you are not alone.

If you experience abnormally low cortisol levels, you may fall asleep quickly but will wake up 2-4 hours after falling asleep. This is because the amount of glucose stored in your body lasts about that long. Under normal circumstances, when your body depletes liver glucose stores, your adrenals (adrenal glands) should release cortisol which helps create new glucose for your brain and body to use. Unfortunately, when you have this imbalance of cortisol, there is no cortisol to create more glucose. At this point, your body has no other option but to initiate a stress response and release epinephrine/norepinephrine (adrenaline) which wakes you up so that you can eat to feed your brain.

The only reason for an abnormal daily cortisol cycle is a bodily response to an alarm or stress signal. The complications that arise with both of these kinds of dysfunction are seemingly endless.

Some of the common signs and symptoms of cortisol imbalance are: craving salts, slow starting in the morning, afternoon fatigue or headaches, weight gain during times of stress, waking up tired even after 6 or more hours of sleep, and excessive sweating or sweating with little or no activity.

If any of these situations or symptoms are present in your life, the time to take action is now. A chronic stress response initiated by an imbalance of cortisol will have detrimental effects on your health and your quality of life. There are answers, and they are needed now more than ever. Get the guidance you need to take action and start living the life you deserve!

Author's Bio: 

Crystal Shores has had such success in returning people to health because this is her passion. She does this by influencing a person’s body systems to work together, instead of manipulating just one aspect of their biochemistry. The whole body approach is what separates Crystal apart from other health care practitioners. She takes the necessary steps to evaluate what is truly happening in a person’s body, and designs a nutrition program based on their bodily function, and not a diagnosis.
While graduating at the top of her class Summa Cum Laude and completing a competitive Dietetic Internship, she followed her dream of being a business owner which gives her the opportunity successfully impact the lives of others as a Registered Dietitian. After her internship, she was introduced to Functional Medicine, and knew this was how she would realize her dream. She and her husband started what is known today as Dynamic Balance, which utilizes proven nutritional principles along with the cutting edge science of Functional Medicine to facilitate proper function within the human body.

Crystal is a dynamic and inspirational woman who has spent years educating herself and others on what true health is, and how to achieve it. She has first-hand knowledge of what it takes to make the necessary changes in a person’s life, because she has done it herself. She spent the majority of her 20’s having fun and chasing happiness through external means only to end up realizing that true joy comes from within. This realization came from experiencing pain and fear that no outside force could remove. The time came when she had to make the choice of what direction she wanted her life to take. When she stood at this fork in the road, she made the decision to go back to school to receive her second bachelor’s degree, in Dietetics. This ultimately led her to feed and nurture her body back to a healthy state. It is with this passion and dedication that she serves her clients to lead them to enjoy the health they deserve.

The road to health and well being is not always an easy one and it requires guidance and support. If it were easy, we would all be healthy. She hopes to guide others in achieving health from the inside out.