Can you use coffee or caffeine to normalize cortisol rhythm?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 07, 2012 at 4:17 PM

When I began Paleo 2 years ago I not only suffered from IBS but adrenal fatigue as well, so one of the first things I did was eliminate coffee and caffeine. Prior to Paleo I was drinking 4-6 cups a day and it was definitely contributing to my symptoms. A year later I began drinking decaf, 1 cup in the morning, with no adverse effects as I love the taste of coffee. For the past 6 months I've noticed I've had some issues staying asleep and will wake up around 2am and my heart is pounding. I am usually able to fall back asleep within 5-10 minutes but the interrupted sleep was definitely effecting me. Most recently I have noticed that I have the same heart pounding feeling right before bed and it is taking me 5-10 minutes longer to fall asleep. I've attempted to adjust my diet and training based on suggestions from Paleo Hacks and other Paleo friends, but nothing seemed to help. There is no doubt in my mind there is some cortisol rhythm issues going on and my levels are probably higher than normal at night and lower than normal in the morning.

Now this brings me to the whole point of my question. I accidentally purchased half regular and half decap k-cups and for the past few days I have being drinking 1 cup of this in the morning. Obviously not drinking any caffeine in 2 years I definitely feel a nice and comfortable jolt in the morning and surprisingly I have been having no heart pounding sensations before bed or at 2am. I have even been sleeping through the night. Now since the caffeine in coffee is seen to cause your body to produce greater amounts of both adrenalin and cortisol, I wonder if consuming this little amount of caffeine in the morning is normalizing my cortisol rhythms. Meaning it is artificially causing me to produce more cortisol in the morning (which I should be doing and believe I am not), which in turn does not allow for the release of access cortisol in the evening. Of course, if this is the case, I wonder if I will have any adrenal burnout since it is artificially done or if I will need to continue to increase the caffeine dose as time moves on.

What do you guys think.....can safe amounts of caffeine be used to normalize cortisol rhythm? And if so, is it safe to do so?

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4 Answers


on February 18, 2012
at 05:05 PM

Cortisol and adrenaline rise during the night as you sleep, this is normal, however raising high enough to wake you up is far from ideal. I found sugars, vit C and salt helpful before bed, coffee I think can be consumed but I cant see it as being helpful in treating the adrenal tissues in its self.


on February 18, 2012
at 04:06 PM

I don't believe caffeine can be used to normalize cortisol rythms.

I really suggest your get your saliva cortisol levels tested now, then stop caffeine for 3-6 months and test again to see how things go.

In my own opinion, any amount of caffeine, albeit small, can just exhaust your adrenals.

Go completely caffeine-free (no coffee, no tea, no dark chocolate) if you want your adrenals to recover.



on February 08, 2012
at 03:42 PM

Not sure if this is appropriate, but I figured since I got 3 upvotes and no answers I would bump this question.



on February 18, 2012
at 07:42 PM

You might want to get a sleep study. If you are having apneas they will wake you up in this fashion and sleep apnea is a real killer and nothing to fool around with. I've been on XPAP for 13 years myself and I'm grateful we have the know how to treat this problem.

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