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Welcome to Essentially Quinny - A podcast to help you learn more about your body and all the things that affect your health.

I have more than 12 years experience in the Natural Health field working with practitioners and doctors and speaking all over the world.

With more and more people wanting to take responsibility for their health and well being, I am bringing weekly episodes to you so you can make informed choices towards your good health.

If you would like to book an appointment with me, I
 am available for both online and in person consults.

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May 6, 2021

This is the third episode in our three part series on stress.

Episode 21 - Glands, hormones and stress

Episode 22 - How sex hormones are affected by stress


Stress causes an excess production of cortisol. This can raise cortisol level very quickly. Cortisol also cycles through the day. It tends to increase in the morning, drop a little bit and then increase again in the afternoon, before dropping again towards the evening, when the body is preparing for sleep.

We also have a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin is not produced by the adrenal glands (like cortisol), it is produced in the pineal gland that sits roughly in the middle of the brain. 

Melatonin levels change in response to the shadows/darkness that our eye receptors pick up on. Melatonin levels should be low in the morning and increase towards the evening as it gets dark. 

People that are stressed, tend to have difficulty falling asleep, toss and turn all night and are unable to get into a deep sleep.

When this occurs we first need to consider sleep hygiene.

Sleep hygiene means thinking about your habits and altering them so they do not affect your ability to go to sleep (or the sleep quality). Factors to consider include:

  • Caffeinated drinks. Particularly in the afternoon and evening. For example, coffee and black or green tea.
  • High intensity exercise in the evening. To push through a workout, our body releases cortisol, which will keep us awake.
  • Blue light exposure. Blue light is the light that emanates from computer, phone and TV screens. This light has the ability to interfere with the pineal gland response to release melatonin as it gets darker at night. 

Sleep hygiene also includes adding in good habits that will encourage you body to sleep. These include:

Magnesium salt and essential oil baths Diffusing of applying essential oils (Lavender and the young Living blends of Stress Away and Peace and Calming are particularly good). Applying essential oils like Peace and Calming and Lemon after exercise (if you cannot avoid evening exercise)

A note on essential oils if you are using them, make sure you use the highest quality. Many essential oils contain nasty chemicals and once they are on your skin it will be in your bloodstream within 20 minutes. 

How Stress affects Sleep

When we are stressed we release cortisol throughout the day, including the evening. The cortisol levels counteract the sleepy effect of the melatonin in the evening, making it difficult to switch off. 

When this occurs, people often get a prescription for melatonin as this will increase the melatonin levels in relation to the cortisol levels. While melatonin can be sourced naturally and is not going to damage your body in the same way medication does, it is still a concern if this is the only action you are taking in response to this problem.

We need to address the problem, which is the high cortisol levels due to stress. If high levels of cortisol remain untreated there will be other consequences in the body like increased inflammation. 

As we spoke about in episode 21 (What it means to be acid), it is while we are sleeping that the body corrects the pH levels of our blood to make it alkaline. 

A low pH (acidic) can occur for many reasons, one of them being high cortisol. Refer back to episode 21 to understand just how detrimental low PH is to your health but let's consider the picture being built here.

You are stressed, so your cortisol rises. This makes your blood pH drop (acid). Your high cortisol means you are not sleeping properly so your body doesn’t have the opportunity to try and rebalance it. You are tired from not sleeping, so you eat sweets and drink coffee and other stimulants to stay awake. These stimulants further make your blood acid and also increase the insomnia at night. In short, you are in a downwards spiral where health issues very quickly arise. 

Stress and your body clock

If we look at the Chinese Meridian System you will see that every 2 hours there is a different organ that the body focuses on. This repeats every 12 hours, so what occurs at 11am to 1pm during the day, also occurs at 11pm to 1am at night.

Utilising this system, we can look at what time of the night we are waking up and are unable to go back to sleep to work out what body organs/systems are struggling.

11 to 1 - gallbladder

1 to 3 - liver

3 to 5 - Emotions

5 to 7 - Colon

For example, if you are eating too many fatty or acid forming foods you may have trouble sleeping between 11pm and 3am. Or if you have unresolved emotions, you may wake at around 4am unable to go back to sleep. 

Other considerations

A malfunctioning thyroid, low progesterone or high estrogen will also influence your ability to sleep. 


If you require more support in your health journey or have any questions, head to our website at 


Music: Wholesome by Kevin MacLeod