Stress Hormones and Sleep
Everyone knows what stress is and most people have experienced it at one time or another. Stress can come from a variety of places; financial, personal, illness, or accidents. We all know the symptoms of stress as well. You may have trouble sleeping; you could have stiff muscles in your neck or back, you could grind or clench your teeth. If you are experiencing stress come to Cunnington Dental and see what we can do to help you through your trial.
What most people don’t realize is that stress interrupts the natural cycle of certain hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are regulated by your adrenal glands. Most people are familiar with adrenaline. Adrenaline is the hormone that is released when we are excited or frightened. It increases your alertness and makes it more difficult to relax.
Cortisol is another hormone that is affected by stress. Cortisol is always being secreted by the adrenal glands on a 24-hour cycle that is related to your circadian rhythms. When it operates normally, it rises at around 8 am and falls to lower levels between midnight and 4 am, when you sleep. Cortisol also affects your alertness and disturbances in its natural cycle can cause sleep disturbances.
What Role Does Cortisol Play in Your Sleep?
If you think about the phases of cortisol, you’ll realize that a few hours after you go to sleep the levels of cortisol begin to rise. By 8 or 9 am they are at their height, which helps you to wake up, get out of bed, and get your day started. As the day progresses, your cortisol levels slowly decrease, and by the time you are ready to go to sleep, they have decreased enough that you can sleep.
When you experience stress, it disrupts this natural rhythm. You may end up with too much cortisol in your system when it’s time to go to sleep, and you experience insomnia or restlessness. You may be able to get to sleep, but you may experience a fitful sleep. You could wake up frequently, or regularly get up to go to the bathroom, further disrupting your sleep. But the cortisol levels will continue to rise and fall and when you have to get up you will probably feel as though you haven’t slept at all. In fact, you probably have never gotten into the deep sleep your body needs to regenerate.
How Can You Fix This?
To fix it, of course, you still have to identify the problem. Most people recognize when they are under stress. It isn’t something that you can hide from yourself, and the cause of your stress is usually identifiable. The problem is that you may not be able to reduce the cause of the stress. In this case, you have to do something to counteract it. Cunnington Dental can help. Your mouth exhibits signs when you are having hormonal problems due to stress. You may have bleeding gums, a red mouth or a fat tongue. Flat, worn teeth and headaches could indicate bruxism.