Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What is a Cortisol Rush? (tell me again)

A Cortisol rush is the body's natural defense mechanism when it has run out of energy and needs to keep going.

Your body has a certain period of time that it can stay awake.  That's the wakeful window.  Then your body creates melatonin and is ready to fall asleep.  That's the sleep window.  If you aren't asleep or falling asleep by the time you get to the end of your sleep window, your body produces Cortisol (the stress hormone) to give you a burst of energy so you can keep going.  It's not healthy in high doses.  It has been said that Cortisol spikes kill brain cells so you want to avoid the cortisol rush as much as you can, especially as a baby.  Your body has cortisol in it all the time and you want to keep it at healthy levels. Not spiking.

When you see a burst of energy after tired signs, that's a cortisol rush and now it can be very hard to get to sleep, especially if you are lacking in self soothing skills.
It may be funny or it may be scary, temper-tantrum-ish.  (Is that a word?)

Think about that second wind you get as an adult when you stay up too late working or at a party or something like that, and when you finally do go to bed well past your typical bedtime, you feel tired and wired and have a hard time falling asleep.  Well, that is a cortisol rush.  That's how your baby may be feeling.  Then you sleep  fitfully, and wake early and you may feel sick in the morning for a few hours.  It's not pleasant.

So try to catch your child's sleep cues and their sleep windows and get sufficient day sleep and the right bedtime.  It can make all your sleep challenges a little easier.

When you are sleep coaching, avoiding the cortisol rush helps your baby's body to work with you rather than against you.

If you need help with your schedule, your naps, your nights, give me a call.

Tracy Spackman is a certified gentle sleep coach.

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