A Simple Method to Quantify the Effects of Your Stress
We all know that stress is bad for our health. Sometimes the pressure to squeeze “de-stressing” in to our already chaotic lives is a source of stress in itself! But how do you know when the stress is so significant that it is a major factor in your low energy, youar sleep problems, or your health issues?
There is a simple test you can do yourself at home without going to your doctor.
This test is especially useful if you have anxiety or depression, insomnia, headaches, low energy, fatigue, hormonal imbalance, poor immunity or blood sugar problems. I also see evidence of adrenal issues in women with vulvodynia, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic pain.
The test looks at your cortisol levels as they change through the day. As you can see from the diagram below, cortisol is high to start the day, then gradually drops into the evening, so that you develop a nice, natural tiredness as a signal you need sleep to recharge your body and mind. Cortisol then begins to slowly rise in the hours before 6am to ensure you wake up again – ideally, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!
A number of things can go out of balance with this system. As stress causes you to release cortisol, if your stress rises towards the evening, the cortisol can spike or fail to drop as low as it should.
This can result in sleep problems:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Early waking
The last one is especially common. If you have a busy, stressful or active evening, the cortisol spike may result in you waking at 4 or 5am, even though you actually need more sleep for your health.
If you are constantly busy, overcommitted and stressed, you are under great demand to produce cortisol. Your cortisol may actually be too high, making you feel edgy and overstimulated, and as though you can’t sit still without doing something. If this continues on too long, you start to drain your adrenal glands, a bit like using the mobile phone without recharging it. If your battery starts to run low, you can then, over time, have trouble producing enough cortisol, and approach “burnout”.
Classic signs of these kind of energy problems include:
- Feeling groggy and unable to get going in the morning
- Low energy despite plenty of sleep
- Feeling unrefreshed after sleep
- Low mood and difficulty getting motivated for anything
A simple test that can track your cortisol rhythm is the Adrenal Hormone Profile.
This is completed at home by spitting into a test tube four times per day – 8am, 12pm, 6pm and 10pm. The cortisol is then measured by the lab.
This test is not ordered by your doctor, who will tend to order only a morning cortisol, which will not give the full picture. The Adrenal Hormone Profile needs to be ordered by an integrative practitioner who is experienced at interpreting the cortisol patterns.
Contact us now if you would like to order this test and gain some insight into the impact of your adrenal function on your health.