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One of the most common imbalances in people who struggle to fall or stay asleep is directly related to adrenal health.

The adrenal glands play a crucial role in regulating our stress response and producing hormones essential for our body’s functioning, including cortisol.

Why Is Cortisol High at Night?

There are numerous reasons why cortisol levels can spike in the evening, contrary to their natural cycle. Lifestyle factors play a significant role, along with poor diet, chronic infections, inflammation, mental and emotional stress, lack of exercise, and insufficient exposure to natural light during the day, which can all disrupt the body’s internal clock. You can read more about High Cortisol and Insomnia in this article.

The body’s stress response system is designed to handle acute stressors, but in a state of chronic stress, it continuously produces high cortisol levels. This constant state of alertness signals the body to stay awake and alert, hindering the wind-down process necessary for restful sleep.

For some people, the cortisol can be high in the middle of the night, such as around 1 or 2 am, or closer to wake-up time, around 3 or 4 am. This spike is commonly due to hormonal changes, sleep apnea, blood sugar imbalances, and acute or chronic stress.

How Bloodwork Reveals Adrenal Health

Imbalances in blood work, specifically concerning sodium, potassium, and chloride levels, can serve as significant indicators of adrenal health and imbalances in the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis, potentially leading to insomnia and other sleep disturbances.

The HPA axis plays a pivotal role in the body’s response to stress, including regulating cortisol production. When the balance of these electrolytes is disrupted, it can signal underlying issues with adrenal function or an overly activated stress response system.

For example, low potassium and high sodium levels indicate the body is under constant stress, leading to excessive cortisol production and preventing the natural decrease in cortisol levels needed for sleep.

Similarly, an imbalance in chloride levels can affect the body’s ability to maintain a state of homeostasis, further affecting the adrenal glands’ ability to function optimally.

Regular monitoring and looking for the optimal ranges rather than reference ranges of these electrolytes through blood work can provide valuable insights into a person’s adrenal health and the functionality of their HPA axis, highlighting potential pathways to address insomnia through correcting these imbalances.

How the 6 to 7-Point Saliva Cortisol Test Reveals Insights into Insomnia

A 6 to 7-point saliva cortisol test, taken over 24 hours, offers a comprehensive view of cortisol patterns throughout the day and night, yielding critical insights into addressing and healing insomnia.

This non-invasive test measures cortisol levels at specific times—upon waking, 30 minutes after, 1 hour after, afternoon, evening, before bedtime, and middle of the night if waking up at night—providing a detailed cortisol curve. Such a curve is invaluable in identifying abnormalities in cortisol production, such as elevated levels in the evening that could contribute to insomnia.

By pinpointing the exact times when cortisol levels deviate from the norm, we can tailor interventions to regulate these levels more precisely. This might include recommendations for lifestyle adjustments, stress management techniques, dietary changes, or supplements to correct the identified imbalances. Understanding the nuances of one’s cortisol rhythm through the 6 to 7-point saliva test empowers individuals and their healthcare providers to implement targeted strategies for restoring natural sleep patterns and improving overall sleep quality.

How Can I Get Good Sleep?

High cortisol levels at night, often due to stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, and insufficient natural light exposure, can disrupt sleep by keeping the body in a state of alertness. Bloodwork revealing imbalances in sodium, potassium, and chloride levels can indicate adrenal health issues, affecting sleep. The 6 to 7-point saliva cortisol test provides detailed insights into cortisol patterns, helping to identify and address the root causes of insomnia with tailored lifestyle and dietary interventions.

I can help you identify what keeps you up at night by thoroughly assessing your health, reviewing past tests, and running new tests to understand further what could keep you up at night. You can book a free consult or an initial appointment if you are a new patient or a follow-up session for existing patients.

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