The Witching hour and Cortisol.

The Witching hour and cortisol.


So for the last 2 weeks, I have woken up between 2am and 4am EVERY morning! Falling back to sleep takes an age and then it’s time to get up anyway! My very own witching hour!

Ring any bells with you?

I have caught a cold that won’t shift? Anything loaded with refined sugars seems to be calling my name and I am having trouble concentrating on 1 thing at a time?

Those bells ringing yet?

Time to listen to what our bodies are telling us! Self-care time!

It could be a hormone called Cortisol causing these symptoms. Also known as the ‘fight or flight’ hormone as it has a higher secretion rate when our body encounters stress.

Here comes the science bit:

Cortisol is an important hormone, it is secreted from our adrenal glands and is involved in:

  • Regulation of blood pressure
  • Insulin release for blood sugar maintenance
  • Immune function
  • Inflammatory response

The positive effect that cortisol has when we need it is:

  • A quick burst of energy for survival reasons
  • Heightened memory functions
  • A burst of increased immunity
  • Lower sensitivity to pain
  • Helps maintain homeostasis (balance) in the body

Life these days is hectic and can lead to the cortisol tap never being turned down or off! Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream have been shown to have negative effects, such as:

  • Impaired cognitive performance – can’t concentrate, won’t concentrate?!
  • Blood sugar imbalances – becoming a cookie monster!
  • Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses – that cold that won’t shift.
  • Impaired sleep – the witching hour! Even if you sleep well you are still tired.
  • Increased fat around the abdominal area – hmmm, doing everything right and still got a thicker waistline?
  • Decreased libido – onesie and EastEnders rather than ‘an early night’
  • Anxious and feeling down – that lovely serotonin that makes you feel happy is decreased!

So, as the silly season starts and we are concerned with parties, Christmas shopping, half term, end of term, family visiting, finding the last packet of sparklers, re arranging whole days as kids are off sick from school and so on!

To have an awareness of what our body is telling us is useful and valuable.

Listen to your body, stop, take a moment and make a promise that you will be kind to yourself. It will help lower those cortisol levels and in turn you will be able to survive the madness with utter serenity and calmness (OK so that last statement was a bit of wishful thinking!)


Take a swim, read a book, eat veggie 2 days per week, increase water intake, treat yourself to a new lipstick, have a massage, do an extra yoga session, sit in a steam room, warm bath with Epsom salts, mindfulness sessions, buy a new album, smile, hug more, listen to music really loud and have a dance around the kitchen, romantic night in, roll in the autumn leaves with the kids, ring an old friend for a gossip, take a walk along the river, get out in the daylight, say no – often, be still, early night and anything else that allows you time to regroup and relax!

Before you know it that ‘witching hour’ will be no more and there will be an air of ‘good fairy’ around you!

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2 thoughts on “The Witching hour and Cortisol.

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