Supporting Optimal Cortisol Levels During Sleep
It is widely known that even though a person is sleeping, the human body is incredibly active. There are innate systems in place to help create and maintain homeostasis. There is a clear rhythmic connection between the HPA axis, the hormone cortisol, and sleep. Maintaining that rhythm between the HPA axis and cortisol production during sleep is key to supporting health on many levels.
After we have been asleep for a few hours, cortisol levels begin to rise, peaking in the morning when we are ready to start the day. If cortisol levels remain high at bedtime and even throughout the day, the HPA axis is negatively affected, which also negatively impacts health. That’s why it is so important to support HPA axis function and optimal cortisol rhythm.
Ashwagandha extract is an adaptogenic herb that has been shown to reduce cortisol levels in stressed out individuals. According to the results of a 2012 study in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, in addition to a reduction in cortisol, the participants taking the ashwagandha also had significantly lower stress assessment scores than the control group.
The amino acid L-theanine may also be a good choice to help patients balance their HPA axis. In a 2016 study featured in the journal Nutrients, L-theanine significantly decreased salivary cortisol response to a stressor three hours post-dose. It’s interesting to note that the decrease in salivary cortisol in this study did not show up one hour after ingestion but was present three hours after. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, subjective stress response was also significantly reduced one hour after the L-theanine was given. In addition, resting alpha activity was increased in the L-theanine group, indicating that it can promote an alert state of relaxation. L-theanine is available as the branded ingredient Suntheanine in many forms including chewable tablets, capsules, or a drink powder. In this 2016 study, a drink powder containing 200 mg per dose of L-theanine was used.
Other ingredients used to stabilize the HPA axis, as well as cortisol production include: rhodiola, ginseng, GABA, licorice, and phosphatidylserine. For optimal effect, typically, HPA axis formulations feature a combination of ingredients. There are several high-quality supplement choices to choose from.
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