Most Common Effects of High Cortisol Levels

Most Common Effects of High Cortisol Levels

Created On
May 08 2023
Last Updated
Apr 26 2024

Understand the risks associated with high cortisol. Explore the most common symptoms and long-term health effects of having too much cortisol in your body.


Stress is an all too familiar antagonist in the modern world, but few people realize its biochemical partner in crime—cortisol. High cortisol levels can have significant impact on your health, as this potent adrenal hormone is essential in regulating stress responses in the body.

Understanding the most common effects of elevated cortisol levels can help you take control of your well-being and fight back against this invisible foe. In this article, we’ll discuss the most common effects of high cortisol levels, including sleep disturbances, weight gain, and reduced cognitive function.

Sleep Disturbances and Insomnia

Consistently high cortisol levels can compromise the length and quality of your sleep. Cortisol production follows a natural daily rhythm, peaking in the morning to help us feel alert and awake and gradually decreasing throughout the day. However, chronic stress can disrupt this rhythm, causing cortisol levels to remain elevated at night. This can lead to sleep disturbances or insomnia.

To improve sleep quality, establish a bedtime routine that includes relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, and maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Reducing exposure to screens and electronic devices before bedtime can also aid in lowering cortisol levels and promoting healthy sleep patterns.

Weight Gain and Fluctuations

Another common effect of high cortisol levels is weight gain, especially around the abdomen. Chronically elevated cortisol levels can disrupt your metabolism by promoting fat storage in the belly region. Additionally, high cortisol levels can interfere with the hormones that regulate appetite, such as leptin and ghrelin, leading to increased food consumption, cravings for unhealthy foods, and difficulty in managing your weight.

To mitigate this issue, consider adopting stress-reduction techniques, improving your sleep routine, and maintaining well-balanced meals that include complex carbs, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

Impaired Cognitive Function and Memory

Cognition and memory are complex processes that rely heavily on the brain's ability to maintain a delicate biochemical balance. Prolonged exposure to high cortisol levels can hinder these processes by affecting the hippocampus—a region of the brain responsible for memory formation and learning. Studies have shown that excess cortisol can impair memory retrieval and reduce cognitive function, potentially leading to difficulties in concentration, information processing, and decision-making.

To fight back against the cognitive effects of stress, engage in activities that promote mental well-being, such as mindfulness meditation, regular exercise, and social interactions with friends and family.

Are you experiencing some of the symptoms above and want to gain a better understanding of your cortisol levels so that you can take back control? Consider investing in an at-home diurnal cortisol test from RxHomeTest. These tests can provide you with valuable insights into your body's stress response and help you identify any potential issues related to high cortisol levels. Armed with this information, you can make proactive lifestyle changes to reduce stress, improve overall well-being, and keep cortisol in check.

Order a 24-hour diurnal cortisol test kit.

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