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Cortisol and early morning awakening

Discussion in 'Sleep' started by Hope78, Sep 24, 2015.

  1. Hope78

    Hope78

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    Hi!

    First of all: I am from Germany, so sorry about my English, I hope you will understand me.
    I don't suffer from classic ME/CFS but problably some related condition (detox problems, intolerance of drugs and alcohol, pain in muscles and tendons, insomnia and exhaustion).

    My main problem is early morning awakening. It started during a very stressful period and has become chronic over the last 2 years. Usually falling asleep is no problem for me. It's more about waking too ealry although I am still tired and am not being able getting back to sleep.

    My saliva cortisol in the morning is in the normal to high range (normal is 2-10, mine is 7), the rest of the day it's way too low and I am suffering from severe exhaustion. I guess my cortisol is raising too early in the morning waking me up and, compared with the other values of the day, it's comparatively "high".

    I tried different supplements when I went to bed like GABA, Tryptophan, several herbs...but they don't seem to work when I wake up about 5 h later.

    Then I took some GABA or Lactium (a milk protein wich acts on the GABA receptors) and it helped me to get back to sleep for another 2 or 3 hours. BUT: it also seems to lower my already low cortisol to a point where I feel much more exhausted than usual.

    So do you know about some supplements/herbs which habe some kind of "short term impact" on cortisol, for about 2 or 3 hours so that I could lower my ealry morning cortisol but don't affect the already low daytime and evening cortisol too much?

    As my morning cortisol is still in the normal range I guess that "Seriphos" would be too aggressive and left me with very low cortisol? Or what about half the dose of Seriphos? Any suggestions?

    Sorry for my mistakes!

    Hope
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2015
    jimmy86 likes this.
  2. minkeygirl

    minkeygirl But I Look So Good.

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    I wake up around 3 or 4 in the morning pretty much every night but my cortisol is low. I could be any other number of things, I just haven't investigated. I have a ton of stuff I alternate to take when I wake to get me a few more hours of sleep.

    It's trial and error to find something that puts me to sleep but doesn't drug me out.

    You're english was fine but please put in double space paragraphs. See how much white I have between sentences? it doesn't have to make sense, many of us need more blank spaces.
     
  3. PatJ

    PatJ far and free I gaze

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    I wake up at 3am every morning (after multiple awakenings during the night). In my case I wake early due to blood sugar starting to drop at that time. I need to eat by 4am to head off hypoglycemia symptoms. I go to bed at 7pm to get a proper night of sleep and compensate for the early morning waking.

    Maybe the exhaustion is actually due to low blood sugar? A simple test would be to eat a small meal when you wake and then try to go back to sleep. The meal shouldn't contain added sugar or simple carbs. Something with a balance of protein and fat will digest slowly and avoid a blood sugar spike. A small handful of nuts should work.
     
  4. Hope78

    Hope78

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    Hi PatJ,

    I thought of this, too. To prevent low blood sugar I always have a bedtime snack (some complex carbs with protein) and, when I wake up after some hours, have a second snack.

    I also bought some tool to test my blood sugar levels and even if I did not have any snack at night it's way too high in the morning (probably due to the relative high cortisol). It should be below 100 and it's always above.

    In the evening I always feel "hypoglycemic", but in fact I don't am (blood sugar 130). But I have high insuline and at the same time low cortisol in the evening, so blood sugar is falling too fast (due to high insuline) and because of the low cortisol the glycose of the liver can't be released into the blood stream. So I always feel hypglyc in the evening even if I am not.

    I really feel completely dysregulated :confused:
     
  5. PatJ

    PatJ far and free I gaze

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    I used to have a slice of sourdough bread with ghee before bed. Recently I discovered that I sleep better if I have a carrot with nut butter instead. Maybe any kind of carbs, even the complex ones in sourdough bread, can disrupt sleep.

    Welcome to the land called CFS/ME. Chronically abnormal is the new normal. :)
     
  6. caledonia

    caledonia

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    Your English is very understandable, so no worries there.

    Low cortisol can cause the early morning awakening and many other symptoms such as you're describing.

    My suggestion would be to leave the morning cortisol alone as it's normal. Instead raise the lunch, supper and bedtime cortisol up to normal. You would take supplementation during the times that cortisol is low.

    There are various supplements to do this. The standard treatment is adrenal cortex extract taken in the morning and afternoon. (In your case, that would just be at noon).

    If you don't tolerate that, you can try Dr. Wilson's Adrenal Rebuilder (I've had some good luck with that.) That doesn't have the active hormones, so it's not overstimulating and shouldn't cause anxiety.

    There is another supplement from Ben Lynch that might be helpful - http://www.seekinghealth.com/optimal-adrenal-90-vegetarian-capsules-seeking-health.html

    It contains various nutrients and some adaptogen herbs, but no active hormones. I haven't tried this yet.

    Whatever you take, you may want to start with a fraction of a whole pill, and gradually work up to a higher amount as tolerated.
     
    PatJ likes this.
  7. South

    South Senior Member

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    I second this general idea, it pays to experiment with timing of carbs, and experiment with what categories of food to eat for dinner and before bed. Cortisol is closely related to blood sugar, which can respond differently in different people based on type of food, I've noticed.

    I've heard vastly different success stories from different people, some sleep better and longer if they eat protein and starch and fat all in a moderate serving before bed, other people sleep better if they avoid carbs at that time, other people sleep better if they avoid protein at that time!

    Keep a log and try differerent foods, and do the same for dinner. I can "get away with" many kinds of foods for breakfast and lunch, but must follow certain food group restrictions for dinner and evening snack, or I wake up at 3 am and can't ever get back to sleep. Keeping a log was the only way to figure that out.
     
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  8. Ema

    Ema Senior Member

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    Did you measure this when you wake up too early...or later in the morning?

    I think phosphatidyl serine is actually a good choice since it helps balance either low or high cortisol.

    Melatonin at night might help shift your circadian rhythm a bit. I use much smaller doses than typicall recommended though - more in the 1 mg range.

    I also agree that raising up the later low cortisol levels to normal is a good idea.
     
  9. minkeygirl

    minkeygirl But I Look So Good.

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    My naturopath has me taking licorice solid extract and B5. You also dont have to sell a vital organ to afford them.

    There are threads here about glandulars that night help.
     
  10. buggier

    buggier Hating my life

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    I have the exact same symptom. Waking up at 4am every night without fail and can't go back to sleep after that.

    What are the food groups that you cannot eat for dinner/evening?
     
  11. South

    South Senior Member

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    I wouldn't want to bias your thinking, because your best food choices for those times may be different than mine.

    A way to sort it out could be to try one day of each of the following, and see how you sleep:

    (I left out sugar and fruit, leaving only starch as the carbs, because sugar swings blood sugar around and is best kept to early parts of the day instead of at dinner, in my opinion.)

    Try each of these on days where dinner was a modest sized dinner with reasonable proportions of starch, protein, and fat, and dinner was fairly early, so you can test the effect of the bedtime snack without a late dinner having confounded your results:

    Bedtime snack of protein and fat (cheese works if you know you typically digest cheese ok anyway, or protein of choice and add some fat if it doesnt have much already)

    Bedtime snack of just lowfat protein (not cheese this time, it's protein and quite a bit of fat)

    Bedtime snack of starch and fat

    Bedtime snack of starch and lowfat protein

    Bedtime snack of a protein and starch and fat

    No bedtime snack at all

    Note that I didn't bother testing a snack of just starch alone without any fat or protein with it; starch all by itself can swing blood sugar around if not slowed down by fat or protein.
     
  12. PatJ

    PatJ far and free I gaze

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    And to show how quirky bodies are, I've just remembered that there are some people who can take a spoonful of honey before bed to keep their blood sugar stable through the night. I don't understand how that works unless they have very efficient blood sugar control that just needs a little boost at bedtime. It's the opposite of what would work for me. What complex and varied bodies we have.

    Welcome to Phoenix Rising @buggier.
     
  13. Hope78

    Hope78

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    Yes, I guess everyone is different. I was tested for several foods and only react to egg and nuts, gluten, wheat ect. is fine.

    Caledonia: I react very badly to everything that is stimulating (even herbs). I have a doctor who is specialiced in chinese herbal medicine, she does tongue reading and pulse diagnoses, but anything stimulating (in TCM terms: herbs that are "warm" in nature or boost qi/yang) aggravate my condition. I don't tolerate extra energy, because it does not go where it's needed, instead my insomnia worsens as do symptoms like palpiations, anxiety...

    When I get enough sleep my cortisol is not as low as it is when I don't sleep well. I need more the calming and nourishing herbs and supplements (in TCM it's "yin").

    If you're interested you can check yourself easily if you need more the yin or the yang (= stimulating) kind of herbs/supplements. Think of turkey (very pale), pork (medium red) or beef (dark/deep red/purple).
    A very pale tongue is a strong indicator of yang/qi defiency (often accompanied by slow metabilism, intolerance to cold, water retention, nocturnal urge to urinate, watery/loose stools and more). Port to beef (everything being more than light red) indicates inner "heat" (= yin defiency). Symptoms are low grade fevers in the late afternoon/evening, heat intolerance, constipation, tinnitus, night sweats, being "wired". One can have several conditions at a time but the tongue indicates the strongest one. My tongue is very dark red, that's why I don't tolerate any stimulants/heat. My friend has a very pale tongue and take tons of stimulants without being overstimulated and still being tired. If I took these kind of stimulants I would go throug the roof!

    Ok, that was probably a bit off topic. But I am very interested in alternative healing techniques...
     
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