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Dunno much... (chemist??)

Posted by Racer on August 31, 2004, at 3:20:08

In reply to Re: Klonopin and sleep and 3 am to 6 am:Racer??? Dinah, posted by gardenergirl on August 30, 2004, at 21:50:18

What I do know -- besides the fact that I'm not in bed, asleep, right now -- is that cortisol levels peak sometime between about 4 and 5 AM. Those peak times seem to be pretty consistent, even for people working odd shifts. That peak is a big part of the reason that, if you're up all night, you'll get that cold phase around that time, too. (I've never been good at the all-nighters, but have done a few. Of course, after getting most of the way through school without doing it, most of mine were work related. Go figure.) Cortisol is the infamous stress hormone, and the rise at those hours is probably the body preparing to wake up and face the wolves while hunting the mammoth.

Beyond that, I don't know much. The whole system is controlled by the hypothalamus, and some studies have shown hypothalamic changes in anorexics, as well as speed addicts. Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands, which are part of the limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal feedback loop, which can go out of whack in funny ways. Cushing's results in overproduction of cortisol, because the system either doesn't send or doesn't respond to the "Turn Off" signal, while Addison's is (I think I'm remembering this correctly) an insufficiency. The whole system is pretty delicate, and I still haven't been able to find out about whether or not it heals after an insult, nor how long it keeps pouting. If I had it together to look it up, I'd check what I've got on it, but I know adrenaline is involved in this whole little dance routine, too. That's something someone else can probably answer, though...

I hope that helps, somehow. The only things I know for sure about it are that it's a pretty delicate feedback system, and the belly fat from excess cortisol that I've seen came with muscle wasting and weird joint and tendon stuff. (Actually, Cushing's can improve osteoarthritis quite a bit. Kinda like getting a cortisone shot every day. I'd bet that it might also, like cortisone, reduce bone mass.)


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