Archive for October 21st, 2010

October 21, 2010

Cortisol Awakening Response


Cortisol, also called the ‘stress hormone,’ is an endogenous steroid that helps the body metabolize glucose, control blood pressure, suppress immunity, and respond to inflammation. The cortisol [kawr-tuh-sawl] awakening response (CAR) is an increase of about 50% in cortisol levels occurring 20–30 minutes after awakening in the morning in some people. This rise is superimposed upon the late-night rise in cortisol which occurs before awakening.

It is thought to be linked to the hippocampus’ preparation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) to face anticipated stress. The HPA is a complex set of interactions among three endocrine glands. It  is a major part of the neuroendocrine system that controls reactions to stress and regulates many body processes, including digestion, the immune system, and mood. The hippocampus is responsible for long term memory. CAR is hypothesized to be the stress response that occurs when your memories systems ‘wake up,’ forcing you to consider the challenges of the day ahead.

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