Today I want to talk about why we need to be prioritising our sleep when working 24/7 – which I know sounds like a bit of a no-brainer when working irregular hours, but surprisingly so many of us aren’t doing it!
Having worked with SO many clients over the years (and from observing my own behaviour)… I know first-hand that sleep tends to get pushed down the ladder of priorities in comparison to other areas of our life.
As one of my clients so openly and honestly shared with me:
“But Audra, I’ve got way more important things that I need to be doing than sleep!”
Ummm. Wrong answer!
So why is prioritising our sleep so important?
Well there are many, many reasons, but probably hands down the biggest is that your immune system is dependant on you getting sufficient quality sleep. In other words getting sufficient quality sleep is an absolute necessity to keep you healthy and well!
Do you often find yourself bragging about your lack of sleep? Perhaps you’ve overheard a work colleague gloating about their ability to run on 4-5 hours of sleep?
I know this sounds crazy, but I know plenty of people who do – even when working 24/7.
The thing is, its actually not a joking matter.
This is serious stuff.
There are MANY REASONS why sleep is critically important on our health, but one of the most poignant is that lack of sleep can obliterate your immune system – the very system that is designed to keep you well.
It’s also bi-directional, meaning an overactive immune system can lead to poor sleep.
It’s why I want to discuss an area of your immune system called inflammation, and the connection it has with lack of sleep.
So first up – you may be wondering, what exactly is inflammation?
We should eat more fruits and vegetables! We’ve heard it all before, but why are they specifically good for shift workers, or why are they a shift worker’s best friend?
Well before I get into the nuts and bolts of it I think it’s important to understand that a staggering 96 percent of Australian adults are not consuming the recommended 5 servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit per day.
Given we live in a country that has an abundance supply of fresh produce, it’s a pretty woeful and somewhat embarrassing statistic.
In fact, depending on which part of the world you live, those statistics may be similar to where you reside too.
So why are they so important – especially if you work 24/7?
There are many reasons, but these are my Top 2 recommendations as to why you need to be incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet if you work irregular hours:
It’s pretty crazy to think that as recently as the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s we were led to believe that fat was bad for us. But this whole fat-is-bad-for-us theory was actually based on very biased research by the now discredited-researcher, Ancel Keys, as he handpicked data to prove his hypothesis that diets rich in fat raised cholesterol and caused heart disease.
The thing is, our body needs fat and cholesterol to help facilitate a number of important physiological processes in the body such as in the manufacture of sex hormones which are critical not only for fertility, but for energy as well.
Ahh energy. Something that seems to vanish soon after commencing shift work as I’m sure you can relate!
There are also fats that are referred to as “essential” fats, meaning they are essential that we consume every day because the human body cannot create these fats from other substances inside ourselves, or other substances that we might consume. So we must consume these essential fats every day.
So on Friday afternoon I received an email from my publisher, Balboa Press, that the paperback version of my book ‘Too Tired To Cook’ will be available for purchase in 2-3 weeks!
If I’m completely honest, it feels quite surreal given I’ve spent many hours, weeks, months and years chipping away at this book.
A book that I wrote because when I was working shift work, and needed some help – I couldn’t find a single book dedicated to shift workers, and one that was going to help to improve my health
So from the words of Toni Morrison – “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet: then you MUST write it.”
And so I did.
Suffice to say, I cannot wait to get it out there.
It’s time to create a global awareness to some of the multiple challenges faced by shift workers because we need people to be working 24/7.
But most importantly, we need them to be healthy too.