Starting with a hormone that everyone intuitively knows is elevated by quality sleep, but often forgets about, as it is overshadowed by melatonin, cortisol, insulin, & the sex hormones. Sleep is the perfect time for your body to make repairs & enhancements.
Your pituitary gland spits out this bad boy at an incredible rate once your consciousness descends into the depths of sleep. Unless, of course, your sleep hygiene is all jacked up. If you do not go to bed until 2am, or you flood your eyes with excessive blue light in the evening, or maybe you take a pharmaceutical to catch your Zzz’s, then your growth hormone will be riding the pine, while cortisol & adrenaline take its place. That is not a recipe for quality sleep, let alone any adaptation or healing to occur.
Growth hormone spikes within 90 minutes of falling asleep between 10pm – 2am. So night owls, shift workers, & caffeine connoisseurs will likely miss out on this important surge even with a steady 8 hours of sleep.
This is the Yin to cortisol’s yang. If you take one thing away from anything that I say, it should be that everything in life revolves around balance. Meaning that cortisol is not the devil it is made out to be. It just needs to be balanced by melatonin production.
Melatonin is mainly produced by the pineal gland to help set your circadian rhythm. We are cyclical beings that respond to the natural fluctuations of the cosmos, especially the rising and setting of the sun. Get too little sun exposure, along with excessive blue light exposure at night, and you can expect your melatonin production to be blunted.
Not only is melatonin essential for the circadian rhythm, but it also plays a huge role as an antioxidant. Since it is released during the night when we should be resting and sleeping, it makes sense that it would neutralize some of those nasty free radical hoodlums lurking in our cells.
These bad boys are under the influence of the sympathetic nervous system, meaning there is a quick response to any changes. Cortisol, on the other hand, is released slower, but also has longer lasting effects.
Otherwise known as epinephrine & norepinephrine, we still hear the alternative names like when people discuss adrenaline junkies. Most of the population these days are in a state of adrenaline dominance due to our go, go, go society. This makes it difficult to balance yourself by turning the knob down so that you can go to sleep. Some may experience racing thoughts or a pounding heartbeat, all because these two hormones are coursing through your arteries like it’s the Running of the Bulls.
Testosterone, estrogen, their precursors & metabolites are all affected by sleep. Get enough, and there will be plenty of production & balance. Skimp on your precious shuteye, and watch your energy, stamina, libido, & sexual function drop accordingly. Cortisol will make sure that it receives all the attention, while testosterone & estrogen get forgotten like Kevin in Home Alone.
This little sensitive pal. Anyone that has thyroid issues knows what I am talking about. The thyroid gland is hyperreactive to daily fluctuations of stress. It is your master regulator of the metabolism. The last thing your body wants to do under stress is focus on growth & metabolic activity. I notice when I fast for at least 24 hours, my temperature regulation seems off. What is happening is that my thyroid is shutting down normal production, in favor of stress mitigation, while the thyroid hormone still circulating gets converted over to something called reverse T3, an inactive form. It is an early survival mode.
Think of this as a hunger-suppressing hormone, one of several. Just like insulin, it can be inhibited & dysregulated. Leptin resistance is a huge problem, and loss of sleep is a major contributing factor. Think about it, if your body does not feel rejuvenated to take on the day, it will want you to compensate through increased caloric intake. This is where those carb cravings really take hold. And they will not shut up until you cave under the relentless pressure. Can you see the vicious cycle occurring?
When we eat sugar, or carbohydrates in general, our bodies will release insulin to store that energy in the form of muscle/liver glycogen, or triglycerides within our adipose tissue. However, when sleep takes a backseat to that 5th episode of Breaking Bad (yes, we’ve been there too), then the ability of your cells to respond to insulin is inhibited. Insulin is also secreted less during modest sleep deprivation. It is unclear why this happens, but I would speculate that the brain wants the available glucose. Since the brain did not have enough time to recuperate, the pancreas slows down insulin secretion, the liver releases more stored glucose, & the other cells stop responding to insulin signaling.
If you would like assistance on your health journey and you are ready to finally get some answers to your struggles, then contact our office at (727) 789-4020 and Janine will get you all set up for your initial consultation. We look forward to meeting you and helping you to be your best self. At Crossroads Chiropractic & Natural Medicine, we are dedicated to finding the root cause of your condition & developing a customized treatment plan designed specifically for you.
1. Davidson, J. R., H. Moldofsky, and F. A. Lue. "Growth hormone and cortisol secretion in relation to sleep and wakefulness." Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience 16.2 (1991): 96.
2. Mesarwi, Omar, et al. "Sleep disorders and the development of insulin resistance and obesity." Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics 42.3 (2013): 617-634.