Cortisol – NREM / Testosterone – REM , hormones and sleep

This is for those interested in new ideas in science.  For many years I’ve been looking at sleep, the Enteric Nervous System and other related fields. This post is somewhat advanced but most will find it fascinating and easy to follow.

For more of my biological ideas see the links below. My health hypothesis (that asks such things as: is there a bio basis to unconscious trauma?  why do we sleep?  what is the importance of the division of the body processes into catabolic and anabolic, etc.) is going through many changes, and the info here may be out of date, or changed or adjusted. – Tom Hendricks

CORTISOL, TWO DISEASES, WEIGHT PROBLEMS  Cortisol, how two diseases may connect weight problems to infant trauma  (posted 7/13)

BIOLOGY HYPOTHESIS http://wp.me/p5S9X-eO  Hendricks Health Theory – the latest news [This link is the biggest summary and the most up to date post]

Please also see this update on cortisol, our wake up clock – how it’s set up an alarm clock inside each of us from 6-8AM. Also see the comments to this post for more up to date info.  Cortisol, wake up clock

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Cortisol-NREM/ Testosterone-REM hormones and sleep.

There may be a hormonal component to sleep that gives us clues to why we need sleep.

Here are some clues that are interesting. They involve Cortisol and its relationship to NREM or slow wave sleep, and Testosterone and its relationship to REM sleep.
I suggest that perhaps the cortisol/testosterone ratio is a key component of sleep and health.

Cortisol, the stress hormone, is mostly released in sleep. Sleep = alternating long periods of NREM sleep with short periods of REM sleep.

Cortisol, seems to be released in NREM sleep. More cortisol = more NREM sleep.

Testosterone, the male hormone, is mostly released in REM sleep.

‘The cortisol / testosterone ratio’ seems to be important and is much studied.

Cortisol increases glucose/protein/fat metabolism – so sleep would be increased glucose/protein fat metabolism for the body.

Cortisol reduces inflammation and stress – so sleep would be important for immunity.

Cortisol stimulates growth hormone (GH) – so sleep would stimulate growth.

Too much cortisol – cushing’s disease OBESITY, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, DIABETES. Compare with

Too little cortisol – Addison’s disease LACK OF APPETITE, WEIGHT LOSS, LOW BLOOD PRESSURE, CAN’T COPE WITH STRESS.

That suggests this possibility – too much cortisol/ too little testosterone = obesity. too little cortisol and too much testosterone = weight loss, eating disorders.

Just about all the cells in the body have receptors for cortisol, and will take it up. So cortisol helps just about every cell in the body – more in sleep and NREM, when it is at it’s highest. It is strong help for stress – would help restore body, get rid of fear, etc. etc. Yet another benefit of sleep

There are two main adrenal hormones, adrenaline, and cortisol. Seems loosely that adrenaline is fight or flight – a big response for emergencies, and cortisol, is stress resolved during sleep -a small response or cortisol is adrenaline lite. And works for immunity in sleep as well as it’s other functions.

There is a circadian rhythm in the liver – bile production stops in the evening, and the liver switches over to synthesizing chemicals and processing accumulated toxins.

The ENS or gut brain produces slow muscle contractions followed by short periods of rapid muscle movements, that correspond to the cycles of deep sleep and REM. AND
Most brain areas show greatly increased blood flow during REM sleep. This suggest that the body prepares cortisol during NREM, and then sends it out during the REM increased blood flow phase.

Discussion – I would suggest that the reason we sleep is to nurture the body and brain during it’s nightly rest period, and that it’s a two step process that involves cortisol being pumped throughout the body during the short REM phases, and cortisol doing its hormonal work during the longer NREM phases. And the first phase of sleep being the production of Cortisol. And that there is a ratio of hormones – cortisol and testosterone that must be in balance. And that too much cortisol to testosterone suggests stress response, and too little cortisol to testosterone suggests a too violent response.

Facts/ Quotes/ Studies

” Lack of sleep disrupts every physiologic function in the body,” said Eve Van Cauter of the University of Chicago. “We have nothing in our biology that allows us to adapt to this behavior.”

Cortisol levels start to rise approximately 2–3 hours after sleep onset and continue to rise into the early morning and early waking hours. The peak in cortisol is about 9 a.m.; as the day continues, levels decline gradually.

Acute administration of cortisol increases non-rapid-eye movement (non-REM) sleep, suppresses rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep and stimulates growth hormone (GH) release in healthy subjects.

Testosterone is produced in bursts that seem to coincide with the phase of sleep that comes just before Rapid-Eye Movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep itself comes in bursts, which usually last longer as the night progresses. Testosterone levels gradually build up over the course of the night, which is why testosterone levels are highest in the morning and lowest in the evening.

REM-sleep is needed for lasting forgetting of fear.

We found that evolutionary increases in mammalian sleep durations are strongly associated with an enhancement of immune defences as measured by the number of immune cells circulating in peripheral blood. This appeared to be a generalized relationship that could be independently detected in 4 of the 5 immune cell types and in both of the main sleep phases. Importantly, no comparable relationships occur in related physiological systems that do not serve an immune function. Consistent with an influence of sleep on immune investment, mammalian species that sleep for longer periods also had substantially reduced levels of parasitic infection.
These relationships suggest that parasite resistance has played an important role in the evolution of mammalian sleep.

In blood samples taken from patients before and after meals, the investigators discovered that bile acid recycling in the liver is disrupted without cortisol in humans, too.

After 9pm, the liver switches to its other primary functions, synthesizing chemicals and processing accumulated toxins.
The cycle begins shifting around 3am, when the liver slows chemical synthesis and readies itself for bile production.
The liver cycle shifts again around 3pm, when chemical synthesis begins to increase and bile production decreases.
Thus, the liver is most prepared to aid digestion with its synthesis of bile between 9am and 9pm.

It now turns out that another normal function of cortisol is to help prepare your body to digest food. When you get hungry, your body starts to make cortisol. This cortisol communicates to your liver, telling your liver to fill up your gall bladder with bile so that you can digest the fats that will be in the upcoming meal. When you eat, the bile is released into your small intestine to perform vital roles in digestion.

During tonic REM sleep, most brain areas show greatly increased blood flow, almost uniformly greater than 50% above the waking level, and as great as nearly 200%. During phasic REM sleep, there are transient further increases in blood flow to most brain regions, although precise quantification is difficult because the phasic episodes are so short.

During sleep the brain in the gut produces ninety minutes of slow muscle contractions followed by short periods of rapid muscle movements, cycles that correspond to the cycles of deep sleep and REM. When the brain is in deep sleep, the gut quiets down (there is ‘decreased small intestinal motility”), whereas REM has “immediate stimulatory effects on colonic motility” like those that occur with arousals and waking.

Increased testosterone-to-cortisol ratio in psychopathy. (study)

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5 Responses to “Cortisol – NREM / Testosterone – REM , hormones and sleep”

  1. musea Says:

    Could the cortisole testosterone ratio explain male ornaments like peacock feathers, deer antlers, etc?

    When cortisol is high and testosterone is low – that shows infection is high and the body is high with cortisol to fight infection, or that most sleep is for body repair.

    When testosterone is high and cortisol is low – that shows low infection, and healthy body, and lots of excess testosterone to build male ornaments.

    The female is attracted to the high male ornaments, because they show low infection and good health.

    (See my post on cortisole -NREM sleep / tesosterone – REM sleep)

  2. musea Says:

    Lately I’ve adjusted my ideas to think that the R-complex, or reptilian brain, sleeps during REM sleep. That is the part of the brain that is key to fight and flight, and other trauma and immune responses.
    During NREM or slow wave sleep I now think the midbrain is active and one or more of the hemispheres of the neo cortex are sleeping.

  3. musea Says:

    Does CORTISOL shut down the night’s IMMUNE SYSTEM processes in sleep?

    Could the cortisol spike at 6-8 AM every morning be both a wake up call for the day , and also a close down and stop call for the nights immune processes ( a likely reason why we sleep – to fight pathogens)?

    Facts:
    ——————
    Cortisol accounts for about 95% of the glucocorticoid activity in the body.
    Cortisol is highest at 6-8 AM and lowest 12-2AM

    WAKE UP CALL

    Cortisol plays a number of important roles in health. It turns on the light switches in your body so you can get moving in the morning. It elevates when you exercise so you can perform at a higher level without friction, assisting you to get a refreshing response to exercise.

    But could cortisol play a role in closing down what we did in sleep.:

    STOPPING SLEEP IMMUNE PROCESSES

    Cortisol has potent anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties –
    It also suppresses the reproductive system (testosterone in sleep / growth response (GH, or Growth hornone in sleep/

    We found that evolutionary increases in mammalian sleep durations are strongly associated with an enhancement of immune defences as measured by the number of immune cells circulating in peripheral blood. This appeared to be a generalized relationship that could be independently detected in 4 of the 5 immune cell types and in both of the main sleep phases. Importantly, no comparable relationships occur in related physiological systems that do not serve an immune function. Consistent with an influence of sleep on immune investment, mammalian species that sleep for longer periods also had substantially reduced levels of parasitic infection.

  4. musea Says:

    More: Cortisol not only shuts down the inflammation, it regulates it

    Cortisol not only affects the redness and swelling of inflammation, but also influences the activity of the white blood cells that cause the inflammation and helps keep immune reactions in balance. It both activates existing immune defense mechanisms when they are needed and also damps them down to prevent them from overshooting and causing damage or cell death. Through this ‘damping down’ action, cortisol modulates the immune response to help reduce the amount of potentially toxic chemicals secreted by white blood cells that produce tissue inflammation. Healthy adrenal function and cortisol output is therefore essential for minimizing damage from uncontrolled inflammation brought about by autoimmune processes. During adrenal fatigue, it is less likely that your adrenal glands can produce enough cortisol to adequately counter these autoimmune inflammatory reactions.*

  5. musea Says:

    Lots of thinking about cortisol. By using the two diseases as guide, I think I can tie in both overweight and underweight to the type of stress they faced in infancy. Overweight = outside the body fight and flight stress, and underweight – inside the body infection trauma.

    Start with these facts:

    Too much cortisol – Cushing’s disease OBESITY, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, DIABETES. Compare with

    Too little cortisol – Addison’s disease LACK OF APPETITE, WEIGHT LOSS, LOW BLOOD PRESSURE, CAN’T COPE WITH STRESS.

    That suggests that there are two stresses:

    inside the body stress = infection
    outside the body stress = fight or flight response to stress

    So, using the two diseases as guide, it would seem that

    1. overweight has too much cortisol from either
    low infection and/or
    high fight or flight response to stress

    That means that high cortisol represses the immune system, to marshal it’s stress fighting for outside the body stress.

    2. underweight has too little cortisol from either
    high infection and/or
    low fight or flight response to stress.
    That means that low cortisol supports the immune system, to fight infection within.

    So where the trauma comes from determines high or low cortisol. I would go further and say this trauma may be an unconscious pattern that is most likely set up in infancy.
    ————————-

    Thinking about this the first thing that comes to mind is our obesity epidemic.
    It could be too much cortisol that comes from either/or

    too little infection ( and this generation is probably less exposed to infection)
    or
    too much stress (again this generation may be under more stress than others)

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