What’s Considered A Normal Cortisol Level?
Normal cortisol levels, how can you tell? When it comes to cortisol levels both too much or too little can play a role on your health and overall function. But, how do you know and what are the effects?
The Stress Test
First, below is a quick self stress test for you to do. It will help you indicate where your stress lies and whether your cortisol levels may be a concern. This can help gauge your levels versus what’s considered normal cortisol levels.
For each question, write a (0) for no or never, (1) for occasionally or (2) for yes or frequently. Add up all the numbers and total your score.
- How often do you experience stressful situations?
- How often do you feel tired or fatigued?
- How often do you get less than 8 hours of sleep?
- How often do you feel anxious or depressed?
- How often do you feel overwhelmed or confused?
- How often is your sex drive lower than where you wish it to be?
- Do you tend to gain weight easily?
- Are you currently dieting? (Strict diet regiment)
- How often do you attempt to to control your body weight?
- How often do you pay close attention to the foods you eat (to the point of obsessing)
- How often do you crave carbohydrates? (Incl. sweets and breads)
- How often do you experience difficulty with memory or concentration?
- How often do you experience tension headaches?
- How often do you experience digestive problems (gas, bloating, burping, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, ulcers)
- How often do you get sick or catch colds/flu?
- *Add up total*
Add Up Your Score
0-5 Points: You have a low level of stress or a great method of stress management. That’s great!
6-10 Points: You may be suffering from an overactive stress response and chronically elevated levels of cortisol. It is recommended you incorporate better stress management techniques.
> 10 Points: You are most definitely suffering from an overactive stress response and chronically high levels of cortisol. This has a detrimental effect on your hormones and metabolism.
If you are looking for a lab analysis or would like to get your blood cortisol levels checked, we can make further recommendations for you. Please email email@example.com.
Too Much Or Too Little Cortisol?
There are 2 known phases of the effect of cortisol. The first phase is the overexposure to cortisol which has a toxic effect. The second phase is the underexposure phase. This happens when the brain resists the effects of cortisol in order to protect itself. With this type of underexposure, depression, fatigue and confusion can worsen.
Exercise and Cortisol Levels
Exercise actually raises cortisol levels naturally. This is not a bad thing – this short term rise of cortisol levels is good for the immune system, memory, appetite, weight loss, sexual health, energy levels, inflammation levels etc. (Read this article that goes over how stress can make you hold onto weight).
Natural Cortisol Levels Throughout The Day
Naturally, cortisol levels will be highest in the morning and lowest in the evening. Throughout the night, it’ll start to rise again to prepare you for the day ahead. Keep in mind; however, that cortisol rhythms can be disrupted by a wide variety of factors, such as emotional and physical stress, inadequate sleep and various illnesses.