You and Your Hormones

My personal experience with routines has been up and down recently.

SO, during lockdowns, I have found myself going through a rough patch where I find it difficult to wake up in the morning. I have never been a morning person, but this felt different, just impossible to motivate myself to wake up sometimes.

In the evenings, however, I would get renewed energy and enthusiasm for work at around 7pm and find myself in front of the screen catching up with work. This is when my partner and I re-introduced the Amish Hour (we were very good at it at the beginning of last year but then everything went to pot around March 2020). The Amish hour for us is from 8-9pm, so an hour before we head to bed. In this hour there is no technology so whatever we are doing (reading, playing board games, writing, taking long baths, listening to music etc.) does not include technology! This has been so helpful to facilitate deep and restful sleep. But there is more…….

 So here is what I found out about Cortisol - a hormone that regulates metabolism, immune response and response to stress. The amount of cortisol you secrete over a course of a day should starts off high in the morning and gradually decline so that by the evening, cortisol secretion is low and is replaced by melatonin to make you feel sleepy.

Trouble is, when we are stressed, overworked and stare at a computer all day every day, this pattern goes completely out of whack and so is your sleep. You suddenly get a cortisol boost in the evening, so then melatonin is nowhere to be seen and this is no longer a cortisol curve and more like a rollercoaster.

Here are the things I have been experimenting with which has REALLY helped me. So much so that the last couple of weeks I have sprung out of bed - partially because I have so much to do and I am super excited about my 'job' and also because I beginning to see the benefits of following suggestions:
  • Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning and then continue drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Pay attention to your lips over the course of a day, when they are dry consider rehydrating.
  • I have cut out coffee and tea but honestly I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy - its been rough! I am over it now but feel free to pretend this wasn't here.
  • Morning yoga - I have new sequences of varying lengths added weekly, check out my Membership Site.
  • Eat a mid-morning snack like apple slices dipped in nut butter or a protein smoothie.
  • If you are in a habit of drinking afternoon coffee then consider replacing that dependency with a short walk, some Yoga Nidra or a little bit stretching and see how that makes you feel.
  • This is a big one - With work and home the same place, having a ritual to end the day can make a significant difference. Sometimes my partner and I have angostura bitters - we cheers each other and talk about our accomplishments or mistakes and what we can learn from them. Sometimes it’s a cup of tea (decaf!), but you get the gist. 
  • An evening walk - even if its 10 minutes to mark the end of the day with a brisk walk means when we come back, we can see our home as a home rather than work.
  • Amish Hour - we stop looking at phones, computer etc at 8pm. I have my phone on for calls only (in case mum calls), but otherwise leave technology.
  • Finally, if I am still feeling restless after all this then a bath with Epsom salts can help soothe the nervous system and support sleep.

These routines have really helped me to get my circadian rhythm back on track after a challenging and tumultuous year. Of course, your personal routines might look a little different, in fact, the more personal the more likely they are to stick. I think the most important thing is to attempt to reduce screen time in the evenings. This will allow the body and mind to calm, replenish and encourage secretion of melatonin for a good night sleep!

 Hope this was helpful!
 Take care all xxxx

The Yoke Wellness Ambassador,

Sabina Ahmadov

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