Good old cortisol.
Cortisol has been nicknamed "the stress hormone" because it is triggered in stressful situations, and creates our natural "fight or flight" response.
We've all got it, pumping away in our body - especially if we have stressful lifestyles. Which most of us do.
You may have noticed cortisol is at the center of a smear campaign in our society.
Sure, we need it - cortisol does a whole bunch of important stuff, like regulate blood pressure and get you up in the morning.
Unfortunately, it's also bad news.
With our modern lifestyles, we're triggering it way too often. This leads to an overabundance of the stuff, as it doesn't have any time to regulate itself between triggers.
Hello chronic stress.
But - and you probably guessed where this was going - this is where sleep comes in.
Yes, sleeping is one excellent way to lower cortisol.
During sleep, cortisol production is inhibited. The cortisol basically walks into the control centre of the brain, realizes nobody is there, and goes off to play ping-pong. It's done for the day.
On the other hand, when you don't get enough sleep, the complete opposite happens.
Sleep deprivation, even partial, will cause cortisol production to go crazy the following evening. This leads to stress before bed, a harder time falling asleep, and more disturbances during the night. You wake up tired, and the whole process starts over again.
It's a sleep deprivation cycle.
When you improve the quality of your sleep, it has an almost immediate positive affect on reducing stress levels.
It doesn't matter when you sleep, whether it's at your regular bedtime or 11 o'clock in the morning. Sleep will lower cortisol production any time.
So if you find yourself getting stressed out, try taking a nap. And if your racing mind starts inhibiting you from relaxing, try listening to a soothing podcast. Or, sip on a warm cup of herbal, sleep-promoting tea.
And if workday thoughts are whizzing through your head and a nap seems impossible, try Bedphones paired with some relaxing music on a comfy couch to get you in the mood.