Notice that on some mornings, it’s easier to get your motor running and be rarin’ to go than on other days?
That’s the work of the “cortisol awakening response“–a naturally-occurring spike in the stress hormone cortisol about 20 to 30 minutes after you wake up that helps get your brain and body energized and prepared for the day ahead.
Research shows that certain factors affect how much this energizing hormone surges in the morning, for instance, it’s greater when you wake up earlier rather later, you sleep through a night when there’s total quiet, you don’t take aspirin before turning in, and it’s a workday as opposed to a day off.
But, those aren’t the only factors impacting this get-up-and-go hormone.
According to a 2011 study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, you’re also likely to experience a bigger surge in morning cortisol during your ovulation phase, which spans the last two days of Week 2 of your cycle and the first day of Week 3 (Days 13, 14 and 15 in a 28-day cycle).
Credit goes to high estrogen on these days, which prompts a higher production of pep-boosting a.m. cortisol.
So, how can you use this energy-enhancing effect to your advantage?
If you’ve got an important activity to plan that occurs early in the day and requires a lot of mental or physical energy (like a breakfast meeting or moving) and you have the ability to schedule it around your cycle, consider having it fall on one of these days in your ovulation phase since you’ll naturally have more oomph right from the start.
And if you can’t schedule it to fall during ovulation, then keep in mind the other factors mentioned above that affect morning cortisol levels to ensure you wake up brimming with energy all cycle long.
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[Photo: Brittney Bush Bollay]