You lumber through the day on little sleep, completely exhausted. You manage to make your way through, hoping for a better night’s rest that evening. The lights go off…and?
You’re wired beyond belief.
How can your body be so confused about bedtime when you feel like you haven’t slept in weeks? The short answer: an imbalance of the hormone cortisol. I’ll explain.
Known as the “stress hormone”, cortisol often gets a lot of slack. But, in reality, it’s a life-sustaining element that’s completely on our side.
When your cortisol levels are off balance, you may experience some variation of the following:
- Extreme fatigue
- Brain fog
- A wired feeling at night
- Mild depression
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Low blood pressure
- Lowered immunity
Sound familiar? Produced in the adrenal glands, cortisol regulates the metabolism, stabilizes blood sugar, and helps the body respond to stress (among other things).
When the body is functioning properly, cortisol levels are at their highest first thing in the morning — poised and ready to help us face the challenges of the day. As the day continues, cortisol tapers off until bedtime.
When these levels are off, people find themselves walking an impossible tightrope between extreme fatigue and incessant irritability. This correlates to the top issues I hear about from my patients: “I’m burnt out,” or “I’m beyond stressed”.
Below are a few ways I help my “tired and wired” patients suffering from cortisol imbalance. If symptoms persist despite following these tips, a simple saliva test can measure your cortisol levels so you can track them on your own.
Wake Up With Protein
Protein boosts your cortisol levels tremendously. If you’re struggling from a sleepless night, consider making a breakfast full of eggs, yogurt, mixed greens or lean meat. Find what works best for you and your food regimen.
Game Changer: Pile on the Carbs After Dark
Yes, that’s right! Carbs get a lot of flack, but they’re essential to balancing cortisol levels. Your insulin levels are at their peak at night. If your evening meal consists of only a salad, unbalanced cortisol will raise your blood sugar—keeping you awake and wired.
Now, this isn’t an excuse to stuff your face with cookies and bagels after midnight. Make sure you are eating the right kind of carbs: not overly processed, with recognizable ingredients. Some excellent sources are navy beans, black beans, lentils, quinoa, and buckwheat. For more details check out my colleagues book The Adrenal Reset Diet.
Schedule in Some Chill Time
Every day, we’re bombarded with bright lights, loud noise, electronic screens—the list goes on. Your body is nothing short of phenomenal in it’s ability to keep up with it all. Reward yourself with a wholesome and healthy wind down every evening.
Start by unplugging your electronics 1-2 hours before bed. (Gasp! You can check your texts in the morning.) Exchanging overhead lights for soft lamps and candles will create a soothing, relaxed atmosphere, and naturally lead the mind and body to a restful night’s sleep.
Your sleep hygiene is as important as any other form of self-care. If you’re feeling tired but wired, don’t dismiss what your body is telling you. Often, minor tweaks can yield major results.
In good health,