Relaxation and stress relief
Cortisol and its role in the body
First of all, let's talk about what cortisol is and what it does in the body. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone and when we are stressed, anxious or worried, increased cortisol is released into our bloodstream. It increases sugars in the bloodstream, enhances the brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues and also curbs functions that would be harmful in a fight or flight situation. Having the right amount of cortisol balance is essential for our health and producing too much or too little can cause health problems.
When cortisol levels rise, our body shifts into fight or flight mode as a way of protecting us against potential danger. The hormone level should come back down after the tension eases, however if we live a life of constant stress then our cortisol levels will remain high. In modern times, common things like work, money and relationships can cause us to worry on a daily basis. This results in our bodies going into a kind of sympathetic overdrive and can contribute to many health problems, such as autoimmune disease, sleep disorders, hormone imbalances and cardiovascular disease.
Our day and night cycle
Cortisol levels should peak in the morning, causing you to wake up and stay alert throughout the day. A normal rhythm would see levels at their highest at around 8am and reduce throughout the day with the lowest levels being around midnight. Melatonin is released in the evening which has the opposite effect to cortisol, making us sleepy. This helps to prepare us for sleep and together these two hormones control our circadian rhythm.
Disturbed sleep and insomnia are often caused by high levels of cortisol in the body. Struggling to either fall asleep at night or staying asleep is a common problem and many people have been affected at some point in their lives. This is usually a temporary problem and can occur if you’ve had a stressful day or have been staring at a screen late at night. If this becomes more of an ongoing problem and sleep is disturbed over a longer period, this can cause issues such as headaches, increased pain, anxiety and depression.
How can grounding help?
A 2004 study measured the circadian secretion of cortisol in people before and after they slept grounded. The study was carried out over a period of a few weeks and results indicated that grounding the human bodyduring sleep reduced night-time levels of cortisol and resynchronised cortisol hormone secretion more in alignment with the 24-hour circadian rhythm profile. Symptoms including sleep dysfunction, pain and stress were reduced or eliminated in nearly all subjects who took part in the study.
Grounding can utilise the Earth’s negative electrical charge to keep our body in balance and is a natural way of keeping cortisol levels within a normal range. When we are in contact with the earth, either directly or via a grounding product, free electrons are transferred into our body and act as antioxidants, protecting our body against harmful free radicals and reducing inflammation.
Grounding at night helps to regulate cortisol levels leading to an improved, deeper sleep which gives our body a chance to repair and allows us to wake up more refreshed and alert the next day.
How to get started with grounding
The easiest and cheapest way to ground yourself is by going outside and walking barefoot on grass or sand. This helps to take a moment to breathe, take in the fresh air and the surroundings, enjoy the uptake of free electrons and allow your muscles to relax, resulting in a calmer mind. If barefoot isn't for you, grounding sandals and grounding shoes will keep you grounded in comfort and style.
However, outdoors grounding isn't always possible, so indoor grounding solutions are available for many different lifestyle situations. From mats for your desk and workspace, sheets and pillowcases for your bed, grounding throws, bands and more. All you need is a grounded power outlet in your home, and you are ready to go.
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