Humans and Adaptation
When cortisol rhythms become disrupted, it takes us out of our normal environment. But humans are the great adapters. No other species can adapt to different environments better than humans, we can live anywhere on the planet and even in outer space. However, this only goes so far. If your cortisol rhythms are out of whack, adapting becomes difficult. Most of us even adapt to using electronics everyday as we rely on our cellphones and computers. From a hormonal point of view, when you add the electronics, a poor diet, and a disconnect from the sun’s rhythms, things start to go awry. The first place our cortisol rhythms are disrupted is at night. Normally, cortisol is low at night, allowing the other hormones like melatonin and growth hormone to increase. But when we are on our electronics at night, stimulating our cortisol, this inhibits the rise of the hormones we need to go to bed. Exercise at night can produce the same results. The “vampire lifestyle” article is exactly about this phenomenon.
Checking your nighttime cortisol becomes even more important when you wake up in the middle of the night. It is reasonable that most people nowadays secrete some cortisol when we should not be. This is where we become disconnected with nature and helps to explain why we do not sleep well. We start this disconnect from a young age. When kids are elementary school, many parents are working with their kids to get their homework done, sometimes until 11 o’clock at night! Even more, the kids are playing a stimulating video game or watching videos on the iPad. Kids might get away with this better than adults because of better melatonin and growth hormone secretion. Remember, cortisol falls at night, and rises in the morning, just like the sun. This is how humans are hardwired.
Many people even adapt to four to five hours of sleep per night and for decades and perform well, but at some point, it catches up with us. A good portion of the elderly are dependent on prescription sleep medicines like Ambien or Xanax. This just compounds the problem, because it does not really give you quality sleep and disrupts your hormones. This is an extreme example of cortisol disconnect. It is much better to start with appropriate doses of melatonin or use a peptide like DSIP. Eventually, you just run out of energy and do not feel like moving, and then diseases such as obesity, loss of muscle and bone weakness start to set in. Once these things set in over a period of years, it is often too late.
Salivary cortisol testing will reveal high normal levels at night. The cortisol level should be around 1 at nighttime, but it is often 4 or 8. That’s enough to blunt the output of the anabolic hormones and we do not sleep or recover well. Poor recovery leads to a decline in healing, repair of tissues, increased inflammation, and less destruction of cancer cells. When patients come into the doctor’s office and describe that it takes days to recover from a workout, this is in part due to a loss of the cortisol rhythm. These are the types of people who do not handle viral infections such as COVID-19.