Trouble sleeping linked to high cortisol, what to do

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by mbofov, Sep 11, 2005.

  1. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    I posted this yesterday with a different title and only got two replies. There are so many people on this board who have insomnia, I really think more should read it. It helped me so much! Anyways, here is what I posted yesterday:

    Here is an article by a Dr. Joseph Debe about high cortisol, DHEA and fitness. It's rather long, but very good. I wasn’t too interested in the fitness info as I can’t exercise due to CFIDS, but the information re high cortisol is very good. One important thing a doctor told me a few years ago, and which Dr. Debe states, is that having high cortisol levels makes the body catabolic – basically, if you have high cortisol levels, your body starts breaking down its own tissues for energy, which is not a good thing.

    He doesn’t mention, however, one of the most important things and that is that high cortisol levels at night cause insomnia.

    Following this article I’ve attached another article re Seriphos, or phosphorylated serine, a supplement Dr. Debe mentions which reduces cortisol levels. The Seriphos article does mention sleep. I started taking Seriphos two years ago after my levels tested high, and it was invaluable in helping me to start sleeping better. It also made me calmer, better able to deal with stress, etc.



    By Dr. Joseph A. Debé

    Exercising regularly and making healthful dietary choices takes discipline and dedication. Some people do it for their appearance - they want to build muscle and/or lose bodyfat. Others are motivated to improve their health and vitality. And then there are the competitive athletes. No matter what your fitness goals are, one of the main determinants of whether you will reach them is your hormonal status.

    Although many hormones have an influence, two of the most important are cortisol and DHEA. These are the long-lasting stress hormones secreted by the adrenal glands. Cortisol has a general catabolic effect on the body. Catabolism refers to the breakdown of complex living tissue into simpler components, some of which are used as metabolic fuel. DHEA has largely opposite effects of cortisol, being an anabolic hormone. Anabolism is the process whereby food is converted into living tissue. Anabolism and catabolism are both essential processes. In order to achieve your fitness goals, cortisol and DHEA must be produced in the proper balance. Chronic stress results in imbalance, with increased cortisol and decreased DHEA production. This causes the body to shift into a catabolic state.

    It is critically important to understand that mental-emotional strain is only one of many different things the body perceives as stress. Two of cortisol's main functions are to raise blood sugar levels and to reduce inflammation. Thus, cortisol levels increase in response to drops in blood sugar and the presence of inflammation. Other types of stress include: chronic pain, chronic illness, chronic/severe allergies, trauma/injury, temperature extremes, surgery, toxic exposure, chronic or severe infections, late hours/insufficient sleep, light cycle disruption (as in working night shifts), and excessive exercise. That's right. Excessive exercise results in elevated cortisol to DHEA ratios. Over enthusiasm about exercise can easily produce cortisol-DHEA imbalance. In addition to overtraining, the three most common stressors to be concerned about are mental-emotional stress, dysglycemia (blood sugar fluctuation), and inflammation.

    How exactly does an elevated cortisol to DHEA ratio interfere with fitness goals? One way is by producing cellular amino acid deprivation. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which are responsible for most of the cellular structure, and for enzymes which catalyze biochemical reactions. Under the influence of stress, (a high cortisol to DHEA ratio), protein synthesis slows and protein breakdown accelerates. The end result is reduced muscle mass. Proteins from the heart, bones and gastrointestinal mucosa (lining) are also targeted for breakdown. The amino acids released by the catabolism of these proteins are oxidized to produce carbon skeletons to be used for making glucose. Importantly, aging proceeds by this very process of cell protein degradation. Stress also results in the replacement of insulin-sensitive, slow oxidative type I muscle fibers by fast glycolytic type II-B muscle fibers, which impairs muscular endurance.

    Elevated cortisol levels also interfere with energy production by decreasing glucose utilization. High cortisol to DHEA ratios result in fat deposition, especially around the midsection. It is possible to sometimes build muscle under stress (high cortisol : DHEA), but at the expense of the internal organs. What happens is that resistance exercise (weight training) makes the skeletal muscles the organ of demand so that protein is "stolen" from the internal organs to be used by the muscles. Bodybuilders in this condition have been found to have up to thirty percent shrinkage of the liver and catabolism of other organs, as their muscles grew. Obviously, this is detrimental to health. For those concerned about their appearance, stress strikes another blow. Elevated cortisol levels reduce skin regeneration and lead to accelerated wrinkling. The protein breakdown that occurs under stress can also accelerate osteoarthritis and bone loss, and prolong healing of injuries. Other conditions which people hope to prevent or improve by a healthy lifestyle are actually promoted by elevated cortisol to DHEA ratios. These include hypertension, ischemic heart disease depression and various cancers

    Elevated cortisol: DHEA further impedes fitness goals by altering the levels and activities of other hormones. Thyroid stimulating hormone and triiodothyronine levels are reduced and reverse triiodothyronine levels increase. In other words, thyroid activity is diminished. This results in a slowing of the metabolic rate. Bodyfat becomes easier to store, more difficult to lose. Stress lowers levels of growth hormone, testosterone, and insulin-like growth factor I, all of which are muscle-building, fat-burning hormones. Stress increases levels of estrogen released from the ovaries and also increases conversion by fat cells of DHEA, androstenedione and testosterone to estrogen. The more bodyfat a person has, the more these hormones get converted to estrogen. Estrogen stimulates fat deposition, particularly around the thighs and hips. Stress is feminizing in men and women. Stress produces insulin insensitivity with subsequent elevation in insulin levels. This produces increased hunger with craving for carbohydrates. Elevated insulin levels increase fat cell proliferation and fat deposition. To sum it up, under stress, muscle is replaced by fat.

    So, how does one know if they have elevated cortisol: DHEA? The best way to measure these hormones is with the Adrenal Stress Index test. This is a simple test the person performs at home. Four saliva samples are collected over the course of one day by rolling cotton swabs under the tongue and then placing them into test tubes. The kit is then mailed to the laboratory and the hormones are measured from the saliva. The testing laboratory furnishes the test kit, with all supplies needed.

    Test results are sent to the ordering doctor within about two week’s time. Analysis of the test results, in combination with evaluation of the individual's lifestyle, leads to therapies to help restore any hormonal imbalance. Scientifically proven techniques for mental-emotional stress reduction can be used. Dietary and nutritional supplement recommendations to balance blood sugar levels are often needed. Women trying to lose weight often eat too much carbohydrate. Bodybuilders often eat too much protein. Both of these situations can result in elevated cortisol to DHEA ratios, as can simply not eating enough. Sources of inflammation must be sought out and dealt with appropriately to lower cortisol output. Thorough understanding of the individual's lifestyle can identify other sources of stress.

    A nutritional supplement called phosphorylated serine is often useful in lowering elevated cortisol levels. It appears to work at the level of the brain and pituitary gland. DHEA supplementation is usually called for when levels are found to be low. In some cases, sublingual administration is preferred; in other cases, micronized capsule form is best. In cases of sex hormone related problems such as prostate or breast cancer, DHEA should not be supplemented before performing an additional test called a DHEA challenge test. This test measures the increase in testosterone and estrogen levels after supplementing DHEA for just a week. For those individuals who convert a lot of DHEA to testosterone or estrogen and have certain health conditions, DHEA can be dangerous. 7-keto DHEA is a supplement that apparently is not converted to sex hormones within the body and so can be used safely, although it will not provide all the benefits of DHEA.

    An additional therapy to help lower cortisol levels is aerobic exercise. However, as was previously mentioned, excessive exercise can stress the body. There is a way to help determine if a given duration and intensity of exercise is stressing or de-stressing the body. Another test of cortisol levels is performed in relation to exercise. A saliva sample is taken five minutes before beginning exercise, five minutes after, one and three hours after finishing the exercise session. It is acceptable for cortisol levels to rise immediately after exercise. However, they should decrease by one hour after exercise. Three hours after exercise, cortisol levels should be equal to or lower than starting values. If they are, then the level of exercise is beneficial. If they are not, then this level of exercise is a stress to the body and is sabotaging fitness goals and undermining health. In this case, the type, intensity, and/or duration of exercise need to be adjusted. This test is particularly well suited for women who cannot lose weight even though they exercise aerobically and - inappropriately - eat a high carbohydrate diet and avoid weight training.
    [This Message was Edited on 09/12/2005]
    [This Message was Edited on 10/13/2006]
  2. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member


    This form of phosphatidyl serine is less expensive and more efficient in converting the stress hormone cortisol than regular PS. Phosphorylated Serine is a pure product and not derived from animal tissue. The serine is from vegetable sources and the phosphate is from a pure phosphate donor compound.

    Regular PS acts as a precursor molecule and is not the active form of the nutrient. In the tissue, regular PS is linked to glyceroland, the appropriate fatty acids specific to each tissue, and is not linked to the fatty acids provided in PS. In short, fatty acids can oxidize in regular PS.

    Seriphos, Phosphorylated Serine, is less expensive and does not oxidize. Absorption does not depend upon enzyme availability in the gastro-intestinal tract of the user as does PS.

    Seriphos, like PS, stimulates neuronal plasticity, acting as a compensatory adaptive mechanism to cell deterioration, and is capable of preventing or delaying the age-dependent decline of neurotransmitter function.

    Chronic stress, physical and mental, can desensitize the hypothalmic-Pituitary-Axis and elevate cortisol. Seriphos can help optimize the stress response, and repair the damage wrought by catabolic stress hormones. PS, when consumed in food provides only 20% of active phosphorylated serine. Each 100 mg of PS only yields 20mg of activated serine following consumption. The bulk of the weight is derived from two fatty acids, acting as a precursor molecule and is not the active form of the nutrient. Seriphos is more stable, economic, and a more active molecule than PS.

    Seriphos can improve memory and sleep. Clinical studies show an improvement on both computerized and standard neuropsychological performance tests.

    Suggested usage:

    Like all macro minerals, it is best absorbed when taken before meals or before bedtime at least 15 minutes before eating. For stress, take one capsule at least 15 minutes before eating.

    NOTE: Seriphos works with the pineal gland. Take two in the morning and two at lunch time before meals for better sleep at nighttime. This mimics the cortisol "curve".

  3. pepper

    pepper New Member

    for this information, Mary.

    Copying and printing......

  4. Tantallon

    Tantallon New Member

    sounds very interesting. Will read it tonight.

    Thanks for posting, Sue.
  5. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

  6. elsa

    elsa New Member

    Thank you for posting this. I'll keep it handy as another resource concerning HPA axis.

    With the help of a MD/ND, I am in the early stages of addressing my entire hormonal system. CFS/FM does a hugh number on the whole thing. With time and a little luck, I'll bring things back in balance and require less of my "get through the day" rx medication.

    Take care,

  7. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    Seeing an endocrinologist is the next step in my effort to explore every avenue to healing. I read a book, "The Cortisol Connection: Why Stress Makes You Fat And Ruins Your Health--And What You Can Do About It," by Shawnn Talbott, Ph.D. I am going to reread it.

    I've been weaning off the Klonopin because it has stopped allowing me to get good quality deep sleep but I am reconsidering. I am a bit more edgy than usual and find that I am easily startled. I also have more pain. Klonopin helps stop the pain messages in the brain. This may be too much stress for my body. I may have to add another med for sleep but I am wondering whether stopping the Klonopin is a good idea. But, I digress...

    Thank you again for this info.

    Love, Mikie

  8. 123sandra

    123sandra New Member

    I look like a ninety year old instead of a nearly 40 year old!!! Wrinkles!!!
    Just my odd sense of humour!!
  9. Tantallon

    Tantallon New Member

    bumping this info for newbies
  10. CockatooMom

    CockatooMom New Member

    I copied and pasted it too so I can read it later.
  11. cpk83

    cpk83 New Member

    I was wondering if anyone has personally consulted with Dr. Joseph A. Debé, the author of the above article or know anyone who has? Would you recommend him? How was he able to help? Any info. would be appreciated.
  12. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    I haven't any experience with Dr. Debe. However, I did have my cortisol levels tested through Clymer Healing Research in Pennsylvania. They are on the Internet. We did everything by e-mail and phone and regular mail as I'm in California. So they arranged for the saliva test of my adrenals and cortisol levels, and after I got the results, I ordered the Seriphos through Clymer. I had a good experience with them and recommend them. Hope this helps --

  13. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    You may actually need less Seriphos now as it lowers cortisol levels. After I had taken it for about 6 months I noticed I was getting an unusual fatigue (I think we are like the Eskimos and their words for snow - we have 50 different types of fatigue). Anyways, it turned out my cortisol levels were going too low. AFter 3 years on the Seriphos, starting out with 8 capsules a day, I'm now down to one capsule a day and almost ready to go off of that.

    So do check with your naturopath. You may need to redo the saliva test to check your cortisol levels.


[ advertisement ]