Sign up for emails and get 10% off your first order

Subscribe & save | 15% off all subscription orders
Sleep 101
How Stress Impacts Your Sleep, And What To Do About It

The intricate relationship between stress hormones and sleep patterns has garnered increasing attention in both scientific research and the wellness community. Cortisol, often dubbed the "stress hormone", plays a pivotal role in managing how we respond to stress and can significantly influence our sleep quality. Normally, cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day, peaking in the morning to help us wake up and gradually declining to facilitate sleep at night. 

Handbook of Psychophysiology, Cambridge University Press, January 2017, study conducted by William R. Lovallo and Tony W. Buchanan


However, prolonged stress can disrupt this natural cycle, leading to elevated cortisol levels at night, making it challenging to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Cortisol, Melatonin, And Sleep: A Complex Relationship

Melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles, also enters this complex interplay. Under normal circumstances, melatonin levels rise as nighttime approaches, as it is our body’s natural way of communicating that it's time to rest. However, chronically heightened levels of Cortisol keep the body in a heightened state of alert and, as a consequence, prevent it from producing more Melatonin, which can delay the onset of sleep, alter sleep architecture, lead to a non-restful sleep, and even contribute to Insomnia. 

The delicate balance between Cortisol and Melatonin is thereby disrupted, leading to less melatonin produced and a less receptive state for sleep—even when darkness falls and the body should theoretically be ready to wind down. This link between elevated Cortisol levels and sleep disturbances has been explored in numerous studies. Research shows that increased cortisol can impair the quality and duration of REM sleep—the deeply restorative phase of the sleep cycle. It's a vicious cycle: poor sleep raises cortisol levels which, in turn, makes it harder to rest appropriately the next night.


How To Lower Your Cortisol Levels And Achieve A Higher Sleep Quality

Approaching such a complex issue requires a multifaceted approach. Here’s where to start:

1. Stress Management Techniques

Integrating practices such as mindfulness, exercise, or meditation into your everyday routine can do wonders. These techniques can be incredibly useful especially once they become constants in your life, as your body will naturally start taking them as signs that it is time to let go of the day’s stress. For this reason, it is advisable to choose “break-off” times to insert these activities in your schedule, like the time you get home from work. These techniques are meant to relieve pressure, not add some more, so there is no need to save an entire hour of your time for them. For example, 10-12 minutes of meditation are usually recommended as the sweet spot, while for physical exercise a 30-minute cardio workout would be a good length.

2. The Right Foods…At The Right Time

Certain foods that have been identified by research as “cortisol lowerers” are bananas, garlic, and dark chocolate, as well as foods with high Vitamin C content or probiotics like yogurt and fermented foods. Of course, it isn't just what you eat, but also when. Having a balanced diet and maintaining regular eating times can stabilize blood sugar levels and manage Cortisol production. Avoiding caffeine and heavy meals before bedtime can also aid in reducing cortisol levels, allowing for your body to focus on what’s ahead: sleep.

3. An Optimal Sleep Environment And A Nighttime Routine

Creating a sleep-conducive environment is equally important, and you can find some “First Steps” to take towards this in our previous Blog Prioritizing the Power of Sleep . Reading before bed, putting on night-clothes and having a calming scent, such as that of our Sandalwood Incense Set, diffuse in the room are great ways to start. Developing habits that go into your nighttime routine is a great way to signal to your body that it's time to reduce Cortisol production and increase that of Melatonin

Unfortunately, there is no button to press to tell your body to “stop producing cortisol”, and of course there are periods of time where a higher-than-usual level of stress is a daily part of your life. However, some healthy habits can help pave the way to a more restful night.




  • Hirotsu, Camila et al. “Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions.” Sleep science (Sao Paulo, Brazil) vol. 8,3 (2015): 143-52. doi:10.1016/j.slsci.2015.09.002
  • Fleming, Lakeisha. “The Best Foods to Relieve Stress (and Some to Avoid)”, The American Institute of Stress (2021). doi:
  • Lovallo, William R., and Tony W. Buchanan. “Stress Hormones in Psychophysiological Research: Emotional, Behavioral, and Cognitive Implications.” Handbook of Psychophysiology. Ed. John T. Cacioppo, Louis G. Tassinary, and Gary G. Berntson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. 465–494. Print. Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology.


Any questions or comments, drop a note to the DEEPS Blog Team on the Contact us page.

Your cart

$0 from free Economy Shipping free Priority Shipping You’ve unlocked free priority shipping 🤝



You might also like

Weighted Lavender Sleep Mask


Your cart is empty

Is this a gift?


Calculated at checkout

Sub Total