How Sleep Affects Hormone LevelsPosted 9 years ago under Uncategorized
Hormones are chemical signals produced by the body’s endocrine glands that regulate all kinds of bodily functions. Metabolism, mood, behavior, libido, immune function, growth, weight loss, and muscle gain are all strongly influenced by hormones. (1) All of these hormones are needed at precise levels in the body, and getting adequate sleep plays a major role in regulating the levels of many hormones in our body.
Sleep helps to regulate cortisol. The right amount of cortisol enables us to metabolize proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It is needed to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure. The immune system is also dependent upon proper levels of cortisol for optimal function. Inadequate sleep can cause the body to produce too much cortisol. (2)
Cortisol is also known as the “stress hormone”. Excessive cortisol levels can often cause irritability, anxiety, and depression. Very high cortisol levels maintained in the body over a longer period of time can cause impaired digestion, damage to muscle and damage to bones, it can interfere with healing and regeneration, disrupt many mental functions, hinder immune response, and further disrupt the balance of other hormones in our bodies. Sleeping at least eight hours a night helps to regulate cortisol levels. (3)
Growth hormone is produced throughout the day, but the majority of growth hormone is manufactured in the body when we are sleeping. This is the main hormone that stimulates children’s bodies to grow. In adults, this is one of the hormones that helps to regulate muscle mass. Growth hormone also helps to control body fat. The best way to get the balanced ratio of growth hormone is to get enough sleep every night. (4)
Leptin is another hormone that is produced during sleep. Leptin plays an important role in regulating our urges to eat. An out of control appetite is one of the most difficult obstacles to controlling obesity. Without adequate leptin, it is difficult to find satiety at the end of a meal. In order to get a helpful balance of the leptin hormone, adequate sleep is required. (5)
Without adequate rest our many of the bodies hormones are out of sync. Some remain at levels that are far too low, and lack of sleep can cause other hormones to be maintained at levels that are too high for optimal health. There are many causes for hormone levels to be disrupted, but lack of sleep is one of the most common causes.
(1) Don Colbert M.D., Seven Pillars of Health (Lake Mary: Siloam, 2007), 38-39.
(5) Colbert, Seven Pillars of Health, 38-39.