naturally raise my morning cortisol

by (260) Updated November 17, 2011 at 6:07 PM Created November 17, 2011 at 4:20 PM

I have a sneaking suspicion my cortisol is low in the am and high at night (I am very alert and awake in the evenings, groggy in the mornings). What are some paleo methods to reverse this?

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5 Replies

725 · November 17, 2011 at 6:07 PM

I had the same problem but fixed it doing the following.. some of which has been mentioned in other comments.

  • Get on a routine sleeping schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time does wonders.
  • Limit exposure to light late at night (if you are on your computer late, download the program f.lux)
  • Make sure room is pitch black when you are sleeping
  • Take magnesium before bed (I also take selenium sometimes which has helped)
  • Expose yourself to light in the morning, either natural or if not available, light bulbs. This can simply mean opening your blinds first thing in the morning
  • Morning exercise can help

3737 · November 17, 2011 at 5:43 PM

Your circadian rhythm is out of whack. Use light therapy to fix it. I like the Philips goLITE BLU Light Therapy Device, which I use for 15min shortly after waking up. Take a Vitamin D supplement, the daytime hormone, at this time as well. Sleep with a mask that really blocks out all the light, like the Onyix Silicone Sleep Shield. It should help you sleep better as well since melatonin production is a function of incident light.

Try to get to bed by 11pm. I know it's tough I was up until 3am last night. Do something non-stimulating an hour or so before with the lights turned down but not off. Don't nap during the day, especially after mid-afternoon.

2565 · November 17, 2011 at 5:43 PM

If you've had lots of stressors in your life for a long time then it's like you have elevated cortisol levels or have reached the stage of adrenal burnout. There are a lot of other things that can cause this such as drinking too much coffee every day, having too much sugar in your diet, sleep deprivation, chronic inflammation of the gut/dysbiosis, leptin resistance, thyroid problems, and more. I agree with the previous answer regarding adaptogens, and I would add holy basil to that list, it's known to regulate cortisol levels. If you do have adrenal burnout it's likely that the cortisol has damaged some of the neurons in your hypothalamus that act as sensors of your cortisol levels. When this happens they can no longer regulate cortisol levels and your adrenals just keep producing it til they burn out. Phosphatidylserine is known to make those neurons in the hypothalamus start functioning again, and one product that will increase your phosphatidylserine levels is Seriphos

613 · November 17, 2011 at 5:19 PM

Test your cortisol rhythms before jumping to any conclusions. You can do it at home via You should probably get your DHEA-S and pregnenolone tested as well. Then you can adequately interpret the results.

Raising cortisol in the morning would most likely be done via adaptogens. Licorice root, rhodiola, panax ginseng, siberian ginseng, are popular ones. Lowering cortisol is more difficult. I've heard ashwagandha and phosphatidylserine mentioned, but probably techniques like meditation would be involved as well. You have to remove all the stressors; there is no magic pill.

Something like this typically has an underlying cause which must be addressed. It could be a part of a larger problem. Best bet is to educate yourself. Dr. James Wilson's book, Adrenal Fatigue, the 21st Century syndrome, is a great place to start. In fact, I would start with the questionnaire here, which will let you know if you should pursue this thing further:

4067 · November 17, 2011 at 4:54 PM

This might not be that helpful but its worth a shot. I had a month-long saliva test that showed I had almost no cortisol when waking. (Then a super spike at noon, then normal the rest of the day). I woke up like a zombie every morning (for my entire life until now). (I can't remember what my nights showed..I am not by my test results).

Now that I am on thyroid meds (for low thyroid -my tests showed normal but my symptoms were typical of low thyroid), I wake up refreshed and full of energy. It been 2 months and I have never felt so good. My mood has improved and I wake up and feel like me instead of a zombie. I am not going to pay to have the cortisol re-checked (so expensive). A "paleo" version (med free) might be trying a pro-thyroid version of the paleo diet...See Lita Lee or Ray Peat or even Danny Roddy websites.

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