Table of contents:

How To Reduce Health Risks From Waking Up Early - Research
How To Reduce Health Risks From Waking Up Early - Research

Video: How To Reduce Health Risks From Waking Up Early - Research

Video: How To Reduce Health Risks From Waking Up Early - Research
Video: What Happens When A Night Owl Wakes Up Early 2023, March

How to reduce the health risk from getting up early? Stay healthy and let your early risers sleep after death

How to reduce and control the risks of the effects of cortisol on the body

Cortisol, called the stress hormone, is chronically elevated in both early risers and night owls who have to get up early. Although cortisol is vital for proper functioning and without it you will die quickly, too much cortisol is almost guaranteed to lead to premature death. And our society obsessed with morning work routinely kills people by forcing them to get up early and keeping their cortisol levels chronically high.

There are simple and easy ways to lower cortisol levels in your body. (Note: You must first use the Saliva Average Daily Cortisol Test Kit. This kit can be obtained from your healthcare professional or purchased online, especially from Amazon; fees include lab fees. I see these tests as important information to take decisions to adjust if necessary.)

Healthy eating

It may sound trite, but think: how often do you eat something that is not particularly good for you? By "healthy" I mean cortisol-lowering foods. That being said, it is a good idea to avoid high sugar and carbohydrate content, trans fats and refined fats, remove or limit caffeine and alcohol, make sure your nutritional needs are met with quality vitamins and supplements, and eat healthy fats and proteins.

When people think of “healthy fats,” they usually think of something like olive oil, which is undeniably beneficial. However, after debunking the lipid hypothesis, medical research found that saturated fats, in fact, are also beneficial. Yes, you heard right: saturated fat is healthy food. I don't know how many times I have asked my doctor such questions, and he invariably said: "Eat more fat!" (It's good to have a young doctor who is always up to date with the latest research. It seems like most of my older relatives take statins, which are now known to lead to dementia. Their doctors graduated from medical school forever ago and don't follow scientific discoveries.. Or they just got used to their recipes, who knows?)

I advise you to read the book by Dr. Mark Hyman "Eat Fat and Lose Weight: Why Fat is the Key to Sustainable Weight Loss and Good Health" (2016). As you might have guessed, my doctor recommended this book to me. When I put her advice into practice, I lost excess fat, gained muscle, and generally felt better by switching to a diet rich in saturated fat. The author also has a cookbook app to make your choice easier.

Relax, relax

When I'm tense, my wife advises me to go shoot at the shooting range. An hour or two at shooting range with my favorite guns is extremely beneficial for me, and I return home cheerful, contented and relaxed. But you don't need to be an amateur shooter like me to learn to relax your body and mind. There are many ways, and some will definitely work for you. Here are the most effective ones.


I have long struggled with the idea of the benefits of meditation and dismissed it as New Age nonsense. But over time, I returned to it, tried the iPhone meditation app (also recommended by my doctor) and found that I felt like a fish in water. My opinion changed after I learned that everyone fails on their first attempts at meditation. Literally everything. In the practice of mindful attention, only an enlightened person can literally clear his mind and get rid of thoughts, and the only known enlightened person in history was the Buddha himself. Even Buddhist monks who have been meditating for over 20 years openly admit their "failures."

But anyway, I can assure you that meditation works. I don’t mean to say that when I’m stressed or unable to sleep, I invariably grab my phone and put on my headphones. But 10 minutes of meditation a day, which I divide into two 5-minute sessions, has a deeply positive effect on my body and even on the feeling of joy and contentment in life.

The app I use is called Simple Habit, but there are many other offers on the market right now, including the most popular one, Headspace. Try some of the free options and choose the one that works best for you, then set a daily meditation reminder. Five minutes a day is enough to get started. You will be amazed at the changes in yourself, especially after you understand and admit that almost everyone fails at first. When the inner tension that was required to get rid of thoughts suddenly disappeared, meditation turned from a difficult task to a real gift for me.

Deep breathing

There are many deep breathing exercises. Not all of them are created equal, but regular practice has a surprisingly beneficial effect on stress and associated cortisol levels, whatever you choose.

Perhaps the most famous exercise is the 4 + 4 method, which is taught in the US Army to reduce stress in combat situations. Take a deep breath for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, slowly release the air from your lungs in four seconds, and pause for four seconds before inhaling again.

I find the yogic method 4-7-8 popularized by Dr. Andrew Weil, who learned it during his visit to India, very effective. It consists of the following: you need to take a quick deep breath through the nose for four seconds, hold the air in the lungs for seven seconds and exhale powerfully through the mouth with a noisy sound for eight seconds, and then repeat the procedure. Dr. Weil and his colleague Stephen Gurgevich of the University of Arizona College of Medicine have reported dramatic improvements in anxiety patients with this technique.

At home, when one of our daughters gets upset or nervous, my wife and I invite her to take deep breathing and, if necessary, do the exercise with her to make the task easier.

Believe me, it works. If you have young children, then you will thank me when you try!

Self hypnosis

Self-hypnosis should be included in the Relaxation section, but I put it in its own category because of the incredibly beneficial effect it had on my stress and anxiety during my 18-month tax audit of my business and personal tax payments.

This is how I learned about Dr. Gurgevich; I used his book, Relieving Anxiety Through Medical Hypnosis, daily to achieve this result. He has many other programs, such as RelaxRx, available as audio tapes on his website.

Unlike meditation, which, despite the instructions on the mobile app, you do yourself anyway, with medical hypnotherapy you simply relax and listen. You are encouraged to do certain breathing exercises for deep relaxation, as well as to imagine certain scenes. Everything I know is evidence of the effectiveness of self-hypnosis - at least for me.

I say "for me" because self-hypnosis is only effective because of your belief in its effectiveness. If you are a skeptic or think of it as a kind of hypnotic comedy show in Las Vegas, then your mind will consciously or unknowingly resist going into a trance. Either way, I recommend giving it a try. This is my first line of therapy whenever I feel too stressed or anxious.

Exercise - within reasonable limits

If you're like most men who go to the gym to work out, you can't help but notice that regulars bring big bottles of water with them and watch themselves closely in the mirror as they do bicep curls.

When I advise you to exercise within reasonable limits, I mean that you should not become one of the narcissistic "jocks". This is one of the worst things you can do to reduce your stress levels! Gallon bottles of water, loud groaning and tank tops are banned in my gym. The local motto is "Hold on with dignity or get out of here."

Heavy lifting raises cortisol levels. Therefore, professional bodybuilders and their trainers learn to maintain a delicate balance between strenuous resistance work and maintaining healthy levels of cortisol, as it has a catabolic, that is, destructive effect on muscle growth. Most men and some women go to the gym to lift weights to the point of exhaustion. However, at some point, the benefits disappear and cortisol takes over. This not only destroys the benefits of more moderate exercise, but also harms your overall health.

I learned about the pitfalls of typical weight training from a bodybuilding friend. (No, he doesn't look like your average gym goer at all.) He limits his workouts to short ten minute sessions, but he's a really huge guy. True, he was not always like this. We have been friends for about ten years, and there were periods when he blossomed and grew a tummy. But then he regained the greatness of a true bodybuilder with these amazingly short workouts!

Whether you are doing cardiovascular training, weight training, Pilates, or barbell stretching, do it in moderation. Excessive exercise raises cortisol levels, which in turn increases stress and damages your health.

Use adaptogens

Remember when I talked about the dramatic drops in cortisol levels that I was able to heal with adaptogens? Some of them are especially beneficial for the adrenal glands and normalizing cortisol levels.

The ones I have used include ashwagandha (arguably the best), astragalus, licorice root (keep in mind that it has stimulating properties; avoid taking before bed), holy basil, and rhodiola rosea. And, of course, magnesium gluconate, which works wonders for stress when it lifts its creepy head. Again, I’m not a doctor and I’m not pranking a doctor on TV, so I ask you to consult a specialist before heading to Amazon and ordering one of these drugs.

Spend enough time outside

Human evolution has not adapted people to live in artificially lit homes.

For most of their history, humans have lived in the open air. Given that evolutionary change occurs over a span of about 100,000 years, it is not hard to see why artificial lighting and blue screens are so damaging to sleep. We simply did not have time to evolutionarily adapt to them.

Being outdoors doesn't mean spending your weekend in a tent in the middle of the forest. This could be a 20 minute walk during your lunch break. This can be going out into the yard immediately after getting out of bed, which has the added benefit of helping your body wake up. It could be the morning beach walk that my wife and I used to go on almost daily while living in Southern California before moving to Texas.

Use essential oils

Here I am not an expert, unlike my wife. She has an excellent collection of essential oils that she uses for herself and our girls. If someone has trouble sleeping or having nightmares, she chooses the right oil and everything magically resolves.

I don't think this is the "placebo effect." I once bought a bottle of lavender essential oil at the pharmacy myself, and I swear it helps to relax.

I got into the habit of draining a couple of drops onto my pillow (remember that this is a concentrated substance). Then I fall asleep much faster and sleep more peacefully.

As mentioned, I am not an expert on essential oils, but there are hundreds of books, articles and websites devoted to them. Lavender oil is best known for its soothing properties, so I recommend starting with it.


This is really important because not getting enough sleep has a direct negative impact on cortisol levels. If you lack sleep, you are at risk of chronically elevated cortisol levels and many diseases that literally shorten your life by ten years, not months.

Since this chapter is about preventing the risks of getting up early, it is worth reiterating that virtually all early risers who do not have to get up early but wake up naturally also have chronically elevated cortisol levels and are at risk of premature death. …

I'm not going to go into the details of a healthy night's sleep as we covered this topic in the previous chapter. But I want to emphasize that you must get enough sleep. For a night owl like me, the trick is not to get up in the morning, but to go to bed on time. For years I abused alcohol, trying to achieve this and not realizing that I actually did not sleep well, although I thought differently. This explained my chronic fatigue and the need for a lot of coffee during the working day. Therefore, I do not recommend alcohol or caffeine: they lead you into a vicious downward spiral of stimulants and depressants - over and over again, ad nauseam, ad infinitum … until death.

Go back and review the previous chapter. When you can go to bed at the right time regularly, you’ll find that you’re getting a good night's sleep, that your cortisol levels have dropped, and that stress has passed, too. You will also find that you feel better, both physically and mentally.


Although I have described the narcotic properties of so-called tranquilizers and sleeping pills, as well as alcohol, we live in a society where problems are quickly solved. Antidepressants came about not because of medical necessity, but because psychiatrists changed their practice and switched from weekly talk therapy sessions to monthly five-minute consultations that boil down to updating prescriptions. Antidepressants also cause rapid physical dependence, with rare exceptions like wellbutrin.

My opinion is that you should avoid temptation and not seek quick solutions. I have no doubt for a second that most readers who see the word "relaxation" immediately think of pills. This is the world we live in and, unfortunately, the need for instant gratification has extended to medicine. Instead of recommended therapeutic hypnotherapy, or meditation, or deep breathing, or any other proven relaxation technique, many doctors open up prescription pads and put you on Xanax and other tranquilizers. Before you even have time to look back, you get hooked and cannot stop without facing the risk of dangerous withdrawal symptoms, like seizures.

A final thought on stress: I'm not saying you need to get rid of it completely. Nobody succeeds in doing this. But you must learn to control and reduce stress. It is well known that the presidency of the United States is the most stressful job in the world, associated with daily stress. This is why presidents age so quickly in the office, and why health fanatics like George W. Bush end up with 95% clogged arteries from chronically elevated cortisol levels.

Most presidents in our recent history simply burn out at work. This can be said about George W. Bush and about his father, about Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. I'm not so sure about President Trump, given his physique. But again, he's spent his entire life on the nerves, and running the presidency should be very similar to a typical work day at the Trump Tower - at least in terms of stress.

I once met Congressman Paul Ryan and asked him how members of both parties manage to remain good friends despite the daily attacks on each other during the debates in Congress. He replied that this is partly because they go to the Capitol gym every morning and train together. As you can see, these guys are good at managing stress too!

Morning madness

In a just world, we could sue employers for health damage and reduced life expectancy due to morning work schedules that increase stress levels and blood cortisol. While the techniques described in this chapter seem simplistic, they are effective in reducing stress and cortisol levels. As always, check with your doctor before starting new treatments.


Fragment of the book “Owls are smarter than larks. Why the magic of the morning doesn't exist. " Frank J. Rambauskas. - Moscow: Publishing house "Bombora", 2020.

Popular by topic