Technology and innovation have been the great features of the millennia, especially during the last century. The invention and easier-than-ever access to Smartphone, countless apps, and permanent connection to social medias added to instant global communication, means that we are always switched on, specifically our brain, which is over-stimulated from the overload of available information and from the (short wavelength) blue light emanating from the screen, adversely affecting hormone production, cognitive performance, and our own circadian rhythm (i.e. as the sun goes down, Melatonin production increases). Starting at a blue-light screen, research shows, disturbs the natural sleep cycle.
“Indeed, although the chronic use of LED screens immediately prior to sleep may result in circadian phase shifts and alterations in sleep, we have insufficient studies that have looked at these long-term effects.”1 This was in response to studies conducted only since the generalised use of Mobile phone, principally Smartphones.
Such studies need more time to bring their evidence-based conclusions to the light, in particular the long-term damage of using mobile phones, and of the blue-light exposure late in the day; as teens, in particular, over-using mobile phones are the guinea pigs for tomorrow’s new rules and regulations.
Some newspapers have already stated that some children have difficulties sleeping because of keeping their mobile switched on during the night, possibly communicating with friends, or just being scared to miss a so very important phone call, text, or social media update; a particular chime resounding in the quiet of the night, acting as an alarm clock, bringing an immediate stress response within the body, with possibly a disproportionate release of stress hormone. The stress hormones will, as previously exposed, elevate blood sugar level and affects Melatonin production and various excitatory Neurotransmitters, possibly preventing the individual to get back to sleep.
Aimee Benbow, technical service manager at Viridian Nutrition said: “It is estimated that 28.8% of people will at some point suffer from persistent anxiety, and an alarming 25% of people suffer severe stress, fatigue and burnout.” Adding: “Almost 20% of people have difficulties sleeping, which is related to chronic stress. Hectic work schedule, financial concerns, illness and family issues are all able to cause stress and anxiety to an individual, and with advancing technology which enables us to constantly be ‘switched on’ to what is happening around us, stress levels are ever increasing in today’s world.”
“Activation of the stress system leads to behavioural and peripheral changes that improve the ability of the organism to adjust homeostasis and increase its chances for survival,” writes Chrousos, GP, in the International Journal of Obesity & Related Metabolic Disorders (2000), adding that stress suppresses: “reproduction, growth and thyroid function.”
“The principal endocrine response to stress is characterized by the so-called "shift in anterior-lobe hormone production." This consists in a diminished secretion of somatotrophin (Growth Hormone), the gonadotrophins (F.S.H., L.H., Prolactin) and Thyrotropin (acts on thyroid) –which are not essential for the maintenance of life during conditions of emergency-accompanied by an increase in the secretion of ACTH. Apparently the anterior lobe is unable to produce all its hormones at an optimal rate if it is called upon to discharge extraordinarily large amounts of corticotrophin. A.C.T.H. is a "gluco-corticotrophic" hormone. It induces the adrenal cortex to produce predominantly gluco-corticoids-e.g., "compound F," cortisone. The latter act upon the blood count (lymphopenia, eosinopenia, polymorphonuclear leucocytosis), the thymicolymphatic tissue (lympholysis), the reticulo-endothelial system (increased phagocytosis and antibody formation), and gluconeogenesis (transformation of non-sugars into carbohydrates).”
“Teens, in particular, over-using mobile phones are the guinea pigs for tomorrow’s new rules and regulations.”
Previously discussed in part 1, symptoms of stress can vary in intensity, from obvious irritability, fatigue, stimulant overuse (due to blood sugar fluctuations), to the more subtle type, including muscle cramp, recurring colds and flu, skin conditions to hayfever, IBS, and chronic inflammation.
“Stress is only supposed to be a five-minute ‘fight or flight’ response – and then it’s gone and the body recovers. The problem is when people are living under this chronic stress, which affects every system in their body,” explains health expert Marilyn Glenville. She adds: “blood sugar can really be at the crux of things. If blood sugar is not managed, then the body will release stress hormone in response.”
In women, stress can have a huge impact on the menstrual cycle: “Generally, stress leads to suppression of reproductive function, which is presumably an adaptive response to conserve energy during hardship. For example, certain physiological states or disease states – such as depression and anorexia nervosa – are associated with abnormal activation of the stress responsive systems and are frequently associated with reproductive Hypofunction,” writes Douglas Rabin, et al.4
Amenorrhoea/Oligomenorrhoea (none/infrequent and very light menstruation) are usually the result of reproductive Hypofunction. Sudden weight increase or loss, excessive exercise, anorexia and starvation (incl. unsupervised fasting), are also classified as stressors for the body. Stress in young girls may also “contribute to early pubertal development,”5 and dysfunction.
High Cortisol levels and hormonal dysfunction affect men too. Testosterone levels can be reduced by chronically elevated Cortisol, especially “in men acutely intoxicated with ethanol.”6 Testosterone levels are also reduced in men affected by the Metabolic Syndrome, contributing to its pathogenesis.3
The Adrenals produce both Cortisol and Stress Hormones (see figure 1), and are the body’s first response to stress. The most stressed you are and/or feel, the harder the Adrenals have to work at pumping out Cortisol, leading to an imbalance in the secretion of Sex hormones. Eventually, in late chronic stress state, the overworked Adrenals reach exhaustion, until Cortisol can no longer be produced. Cortisol is the hormone that allows us to wake up and get up in the morning (see Stress Part 1), and to run away from danger by adding fuel to our engine. No ignition means the engine cannot start. Symptoms of Adrenal Exhaustion include cognitive impairment (poor memory/concentration), brain fog, muscular and joint pain, exhaustion, complete lack of energy/dizziness, low mood, anxiety and depression.
1. Cajochen, C. et al. (2011). Evening exposure to a light-emitting diodes (LED)-backlit computer screen affects circadian physiology and cognitive performance. Journal of Applied Physiology. 110 (5), pp. 1432–1438.
2. Gottfried, S. (2016). The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis in mood disorders. In: Greenblatt, JM. Brogan, K. Integrative Therapies for Depression: Redefining Models for Assessment, Treatment, and Prevention. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. pp. 171–189.
3. Laaksonen, DE. et al. (2003). Sex hormones, inflammation and the metabolic syndrome: a population-based study. European Journal of Endocrinology. 149, pp. 601–608.
4. Rabin, D. et al. (1988). Stress and Reproduction: Physiologic and Pathophysiologic Interactions between the Stress and Reproductive Axes. Mechanisms of Physical and Emotional Stress. 245, pp 377–387.
5. Ruttle, PL. et al. (2015). Neuroendocrine coupling across adolescence and the longitudinal influence of early life stress. Developmental Psychobiology. 57 (6), pp. 688–704.
6. Välimäki, M J. et al. (1984). Sex hormones and adrenocortical steroids in men acutely intoxicated with ethanol. Alcohol. 1 (1), pp. 89–93.
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