Why You Might Not Be Growing Part 3

Sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation

If thats not enough, theres even more literature done on sleep disturbances and their correlation with decreased morning awakening salivary cortisol. “Morning and evening salivary cortisol levels were correlated with sleep parameters in 14 patients with primary insomnia and 15 healthy controls. Salivary cortisol was sampled immediately after awakening (T1), 15 min later (T2), and immediately before going to bed (T3) for 1 week at home. In parallel with this, subjects estimated parameters of sleep in a daily sleep log. Patients and controls were all non-smokers who did not differ regarding morning awakening time or bedtime. Cortisol after awakening was significantly decreased in primary insomnia. Salivary cortisol at the time of awakening correlated negatively with the subjective estimation of sleep quality, i.e. a low salivary cortisol level directly after awakening correlated with a higher frequency of nightly awakenings (r = -0.50), a diminished sleep quality (r = -0.34) and a decreased feeling of recovery after awakening (r = -0.35; all p < 0.05). Furthermore, awakening cortisol was negatively correlated with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (r = -0.43) and with a questionnaire on sleep-related cognitions with the subscales rumination in bed (r = -0.56 ) and focusing on sleep-related thoughts (r = -0.46; all p < 0.05)” (5.)

So far, we see sleep deprivation interrupting normal circadian rhythms that interrupt and cause a cascading effect with normal hormone functioning. Now onto one final hormone thats released during sleep that everyone is highly concerned with…growth hormone. Growth hormone has its biggest spike  with is roughly half of our daily growth hormone amount. If this process is interuppted, could this be another big reason why you’re not growing? Plasma growth hormone (GH), insulin, cortisol, and glucose were measured during sleep on 38 nights in eight young adults in a study from Takahashi et al (6.) Blood was drawn from an indwelling catheter at 30-min intervals; EEG and electrooculogram were recorded throughout the night. In seven subjects, a plasma GH peak (13-72 mmug/ml) lasting 1.5-3.5 hr appeared with the onset of deep sleep. Smaller GH peaks (6-14 mmug/ml) occasionally appeared during subsequent deep sleep phases. Peak GH secretion was delayed if the onset of sleep was delayed. Subjects who were awakened for 2-3 hr and allowed to return to sleep exhibited another peak of GH secretion (14-46 mmug/ml). Peak GH secretion was not correlated with changes in plasma glucose, insulin, and cortisol. The effects of 6-CNS-active drugs on sleep-related GH secretion were investigated. Imipramine (50 mg) completely abolished GH peaks in two of four subjects, whereas chlorpromazine (30 mg), phenobarbital (97 mg), diphenylhydantoin (90 mg), chlordiazepoxide (20 mg), and isocarboxazid (30 mg) did not inhibit GH peaks. Altered hypothalamic activity associated with initiation of sleep results in a major peak of growth hormone secretion unrelated to hypoglycemia or changes in cortisol and insulin secretion. Now, although that is disrupted, we know that our bodies are very good at compensating, and it seems overall 24 hour growth hormone levels are compensated for (7.) But the issue is, is this disruption causing a bigger issue? Could this change if it is chronic sleep deprivation? Would our bodies still compensate? I cannot answer that with certainty.

Sleep deprivation is also correlated to possible decline in thyroid hormone output, insulin sensitivity, and overall cognitive output (8, 9, 10.) The literature in this article makes it very clear that sleep deprivation very well COULD be why you’re not growing. So next time you hit a sticking point, remember to assess EVERY variable (looking at sleep first.) Once proper sleep patterns are assessed and corrected, you can move on to the next variable which could be holding back your progress.


  1. Acute partial sleep deprivation increases food intake in healthy men. Laurent Brondel, Michael A. Romer, Pauline M. Nougues, Peio Touyarou, Damien Davenne. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20357041)
  2. Effect of 1 Week of Sleep Restriction on Testosterone Levels in Young Healthy Men. Leproult, R., & Van Cauter, E. (2011). (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4445839/)
  3. Sleep deprivation reduces circulating androgens in healthy men. V. Cortés-Gallegos, G. Castañeda, R. Alonso, I. Sojo, A. Carranco, C. Cervantes, A. Parra. Arch Androl. 1983 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6405703)
  4. Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening. R. Leproult, G. Copinschi, O. Buxton, E. Van Cauter. Sleep. 1997 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9415946)
  5. Sleep disturbances are correlated with decreased morning awakening salivary cortisol. Jutta Backhaus, Klaus Junghanns, Fritz Hohagen. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2004 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15219642)
  6. Growth hormone secretion during sleep. Y. Takahashi, D. M. Kipnis, W. H. Daughaday. J Clin Invest. 1968 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5675428)
  7. Effect of sleep deprivation on overall 24 h growth-hormone secretion. G. Brandenberger, C. Gronfier, F. Chapotot, C. Simon, F. Piquard. Lancet. 2000 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11052586)
  8. Influence of partial sleep deprivation on energy balance and insulin sensitivity in healthy women. Anja Bosy-Westphal, Silvia Hinrichs, Kamila Jauch-Chara, Britta Hitze, Wiebke Later, Britta Wilms, Uta Settler, Achim Peters, Dieter Kiosz, Manfred James Muller. Obes Facts. 2008 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20054188)
  9. Optimism and self-esteem are related to sleep. Results from a large community-based sample. Sakari Lemola, Katri Räikkönen, Veronica Gomez, Mathias Allemand. Int J Behav Med. 2013 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23055029)
  10. Sleep duration and cardiometabolic risk: a review of the epidemiologic evidence. Kristen L. Knutson. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21112022)