The final topic I would like to address is Sleep. This is closely related to stress, which I covered in Part 1. Sometimes people can’t sleep because they are stressed, they are worried, they can’t turn off….. As you know, stress leads to an increase in cortisol, which competes with progesterone.
Normally cortisol levels are high in the morning and they slowly decrease during the day. If you are too stressed, then cortisol levels still stay high at night and this prevents you from going to sleep. In turn progesterone may help to calm down the brain and help you going to sleep. As you can see it’s a vicious circle. Lack of sleep depletes progesterone and progesterone can induce a good night’s sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation also seems to mess with cortisol. In studies on individuals who were sleep deprived, evening cortisol was still elevated and the levels decreased six times slower than in individuals who had sufficient sleep. Additionally, sleep deprivation has been shown to lower leptin levels, which is an appetite-suppressing hormone and increase ghrelin levels, a hormone which stimulates hunger.
Even if you feel you don’t need much sleep to function during the day, your body still needs it to restore itself and balance your hormones and needs a good night sleep to do so.