Bad Night's Sleep
This hypothetical but all-too-familiar day of hormonal hell begins with a bad night's sleep.
You wake after a restless five hours. Your cortisol levels are high, and your mood is low. Because of poor sleep, your human growth hormone and testosterone production is down. You find solace in a carb-heavy, comfort-food breakfast, which sends blood sugar, and then insulin levels, soaring. This sets the stage for a sugar crash that makes you sleepy, hungry, or both.
Feeling off, you skip the trip to the gym — that means the sugar that insulin delivered to your muscle cells doesn't get burned for energy. Instead, it's stored as fat in your gut. Over time, this can raise estrogen levels and lower T. Without your usual exercise, the stress at the office feels more overwhelming (which means cortisol levels spike and contribute to even more sugar dumped into your blood- stream, as well as fat storage). You drown these discontents with a few or more drinks after work, which can further depress testosterone.
Before bed, you indulge in a sugar-rich snack that keeps insulin pumping when your anabolic hormones — testosterone and HGH — should be kicking in. This leads to another bad night's sleep. The good news: Tweak any one of these behaviors, and you flip the hormone circle in a positive direction. The easiest place to start is with a good night's rest.