Insomnia is a common sleep disorder which can lead to serious health conditions if not treated. People who have insomnia have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. As a result, they may get too little sleep or have poor-quality sleep.
Utilising such a tool for identifying possible insomnia disorders will look at a complete diurnal pattern of melatonin and cortisol to help patients struggling with hormone-related sleep imbalances.
Adequate sleep has long been known to be vital to good health. Melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland during the dark phase of the light/dark cycle, regulates the sleep/wake cycle and the “biological clock”.
This is how it is all pictured together. Cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress, is also known for its diurnal variation linked to the sleep/wake cycle. It has the opposite pattern to melatonin production in a healthy individual. While melatonin rises at night to peak during the early hours of the morning, cortisol is at its lowest levels throughout the night. After waking, melatonin production dips with the onset of daylight and cortisol rises and peaks about 30 minutes to 1 hour after rising. Cortisol production falls gradually during the day, while melatonin begins to rise during the evening as daylight diminishes, and the cycle repeats itself. When the cortisol pattern is disrupted, for example as a result of excessive stressors, this can lead to high night cortisol, disrupted sleeping patterns, and exposure to more night time light, which in turn leads to lowered levels of melatonin.
- Can’t get to sleep or stay asleep
- Morning or evening fatigue
- Poor concentration and/or impaired performance
- Feeling “tired but wired”
- High stress and irritability
- Increased hunger / cravings