Cortisol is a hormone that's released by your adrenal glands in response to stress.

It helps regulate blood pressure, metabolism and immune system, among other things.

When cortisol levels are too high for too long, it can lead to depression, weight gain, and cognitive impairment.

It also interrupts sleep patterns.

As the body's main stress hormone, cortisol has some pretty important functions.

It helps regulate blood sugar levels, control metabolism, and reduce inflammation.

Cortisol also plays a role in memory formation and helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle.

It's sometimes called the stress hormone because it prepares the body for stressful situations.

Too much cortisol can affect many different parts of the body, from your immune system to your mood and appetite.

One way this occurs is through an increase in blood sugar, which can lead to diabetes or high blood pressure.

Your body releases cortisol in response to stress, but there are also some foods that can stimulate its release.

Caffeine, for example, is a known cortisol trigger. Chocolate and cheese can also have the same effect.

These triggers work by releasing more adrenaline into your system and this sends a signal to your adrenal glands to secrete more cortisol into your bloodstream.

To reduce cortisol levels avoid caffeine and alcohol, get enough sleep and exercise regularly.