Cortical Awakening Response

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Cortical Awakening Response

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland that plays a huge role in sugar regulation and the stress response. Imagine for a moment that you are walking through the woods and come

Sample Report

across a bear. An immediate stress response occurs and you go into flight or fight mode. Essentially you are preparing to fight for your life or run away. In this situation your adrenal glands will secrete cortisol which has a multitude of effects including: an increase in glucose in the blood stream, increase in heart rate, and a decrease in the storage of glucose. These effects play a role in that fight or flight response and are good in the short term, emergency situation. An issue can develop however if there is a prolonged stress response that leads to chronic high cortisol levels. This can be caused by repeated stressful life events or a stress event that occurs over a long period of time.

Cortisol is a diurnal hormone which means that it varies by the time of day. Cortiosl should be highest in the morning after waking and gradually decreases through the day and is at its lowest right before bed. It is thought that cortisol along with melatonin play a role in our day – night patterns and sleep cycle. Difficulty with getting to bed and/or getting up in the morning could be symptoms of a cortisol problem.

Cortisol can be tested in the morning with a blood draw, but that is only relaying information for one part of the day. What if your morning cortisol level is normal, but instead of being at its lowest around bedtime it crashes mid-afternoon? Since cortisol varies throughout the day there are a number of different ways cortisol levels can be abnormal. That is why a comprehensive test that looks at a whole day provides more accurate information.

At our office we offer two different tests that give multiple cortisol readings throughout the day. The first utilizes saliva and the second utilizes urine. Both are 5 sample tests with each sample collected at a different point during the day. These are then put together to show a graph of how cortisol fluctuates throughout the day. Based on the results one of three treatment pathways is taken. Number 1, direct supplementation with adrenal hormones. Number 2, repair of the adrenal gland. Number 3, stimulation of the adrenal gland to improve production. Schedule a consultation with our doctor to discuss your adrenal testing and treatment options.