When it comes to health complaints amongst shift workers, one of the most common things that I hear from my clients is digestive discomfort. This can come in the form of constipation, bloating or various other irritable bowel type symptoms.
Now to be honest, there could be a myriad of reasons as to why you may be experiencing digestive distress, but today I want to talk about one strategy that’s … well, often overlooked if you work 24/7 – yet it can make a MASSIVE difference to how your gut feels and functions.
And if comes down to asking yourself “when (and how often) am I eating?”
Because when we work 24/7, we tend to eat 24/7 which can set us up for a whole world of pain – in a number of ways!
In other words, although we may be awake at 2am (well I use the term “awake” loosely here!), it doesn’t mean we should be eating at 2am, because of our innate biological rhythms as a human being.
I’ll use an analogy to help explain what I mean.
When it comes to improving our sleep, so many of us are resorting to taking pills and potions when working 24/7, but did you know that using Mother Nature strategically (AKA timed sunshine exposure) can help to improve your sleep?
I know this might sound counterintuitive, but often when we think of ways to improve our sleep, most of the time we think that it’s all about what we’re doing JUST BEFORE BED (which does play a role), however, what we’re doing hours before, leading up to bedtime, also counts.
This is because getting sun exposure helps to reset certain mood-boosting hormones and neurotransmitters – in particular cortisol, dopamine, serotonin and melatonin, which also play a role in our sleep.
For example, when we get sun exposure first thing in the morning it boosts production of:
The other day I had someone ask me, “Audra, what’s the number one food that you avoid when you want to sleep better?”
I know right. I can almost hear you let out an enormous sigh. Damn it! We all love sugar – especially when we’re sleep deprived!
But the thing is, our bodies need nutrients – not sugar.
Yes, sugar can give us an energy boost, but too much sugar, on the other hand, can cause something called hypoglycemia, where the blood sugar ends up dropping quite severely, leading to an energy slump later on.
Not ideal when you’re trying to pry your eyes open from getting up at “stupid o’clock”, or trying to stay awake during the night shift.
But getting back to nutrients.
Nutrients = information, and sugar, especially the highly refined and processed sugar found in most processed and takeaway foods do not contain nutrients, and this can cause problems. Especially on our sleep.
Let me explain.