We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Connection Between Cortisol and Sleep?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Jan 29, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

There are various connections between cortisol and sleep. Some studies have shown that cortisol levels are highest in the early morning and they drop significantly throughout the day, reaching their lowest levels at around 10 p.m.. This shows that the body is most ready for restful sleep at around this time. There is also the correlation between cortisol and sleep deprivation. When one misses out on a good night’s sleep, stress and cortisol levels go up, leading to even more trouble sleeping.

Studies have indicated that sleeping during the hours when cortisol levels are lowest provides the most restful sleep for full rejuvenation. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, so it is also linked to the sleep cycle in two other ways. Lack of sleep can lead to higher stress levels and thus, higher cortisol levels. The opposite is also true. High stress levels can lead to trouble sleeping, which in turn raises stress levels even further.

Various factors can help combat the destructive cycle production of cortisol and sleep deprivation can bring. It is a good idea to try and get to sleep while cortisol levels are low. This will lead to a more restful sleep and will help reduce brain fog and stress throughout the day. One may also engage in activities that alleviate stress and help the body get ready for sleep in the evening. Exercise, for instance, releases “feel good” endorphins into the bloodstream, leading to relaxation. The extra exertion may also allow the body to feel tired enough to get to bed on time.

If sleep deprivation is the cause for stress to begin with, there are various potential causes. Certain medical conditions, mood disorders like anxiety and depression, and high caffeine consumption can all lead to insomnia. Certain medications may also be to blame. In these cases, taking a prescription mediation to treat any underlying causes may help. Sleeping pills are a temporary solution only and should not be used routinely.

Sometimes high levels of cortisol and sleep disruption is inevitable, but there are things that can be done so that it doesn’t become a pattern. If sleep was disturbed, meaning it was either hard to fall asleep or stay asleep, it may help if activities are kept to a minimum the following day. Although this is not always possible, taking things as easy as possible will reduce additional stress. It may be tempting to take a nap, but it should be no longer than half an hour or sleep may be disrupted.

Exercise should be performed more than two hours before bed. Sometimes a relaxing routine may also help, such as taking a hot bath or sipping warm milk or chamomile tea. The temperature should be kept cool but not cold, and rooms should be as dark as possible. If sleep still won't come, deep breathing and meditation can sometimes help. If not, one should get up from the bed and read or watch television in another room until tired enough to sleep.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.