Do You Struggle With Broken Sleep? Why Your Diet May Be To Blame.

Ditching the processed foods not only help us to feel better (and shake off a few extra kilos!), but it also helps us to sleep better.

This is because most processed foods are:

  • Low in dietary fibre required to support optimal gut health. Poor gut health impacts the production of certain hormones and inhibitory neurotransmitters such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glycine, which help to calm the nervous system and encourage better sleep. Lack of GABA also contributes to anxiety in a lot of people, which can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • High in refined sugars which feed pathogenic bacteria leading to an imbalance of gut microbes, otherwise known as dysbiosis. For example, when there is an overgrowth of a yeast infection such as Candida, it causes inflammation in the gut. This in turn triggers production of cortisol – a stress hormone that also acts as an anti-inflammatory. When cortisol levels are elevated, it can contribute to insomnia because it dampens down production of the sleep-regulating hormone, melatonin.
  • Deficient in nutrients that play a role in sleep such as vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, folate, magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium – all of which help to facilitate the many biochemical processes required to produce melatonin. For example, magnesium, calcium and vitamin B5 act as co-factors in the conversion of serotonin to melatonin.

So if you’re struggling with continual bouts of broken sleep (on top of working shift work), it might be time to take a good look at your diet. Because gut disturbances and nutrient deficiencies as a result of consuming foods that are highly refined and processed may be further contributing to your sleep disturbance – in addition to the shift work itself.

Audra x


References:

Ji, X, Grandner, M & Liu, J 2017, ‘The relationship between micronutrient status and sleep patterns: a systematic review’, Public Health Nutrition, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 687-701.

Li, Y, Hao, Y, Fan, F & Zhang, B 2018, ‘The role of microbiome in insomnia, circadian disturbance and depression’, Frontiers in Psychiatry, vol.9, no. 669, pp. 1-11.

Smith, R, Easson, C, Lyle, S, Kapoor, R, Donnelly, C, Davidson, E, Parikh, E, Lopez, J & Tartar, J 2019, Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans’, PLOS One, vol. 14, no. 10, pp. 1-17.

Lack of Sleep and Inflammation – Why You Need To Know About It.

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?

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HSW 94 – Project Sunrise and Jet Lag with Dr Sun Bin.

Today we’re talking all things jet-lag with Dr Sun Bin from the University of Sydney who is an epidemiologist and public health researcher, who has a particular interest in sleep and circadian rhythms.

Dr Sun Bin and her team are currently working on a research project with Australia’s largest airline, Qantas, called “Project Sunrise” to ascertain the feasibility of running non-stop 19-20 hour commercial flights from the east coast of Australia, to London and New York, with a special focus around passenger and crew well-being.

What you’re going to learn:

– What is Project Sunrise, and some of the aims of the research?
– What scientists are specifically monitoring throughout the flights, as part of the research.
– Why passengers are being encouraged not to eat during the biological night, to help reduce digestive discomfort.
– Some of the results and findings so far, along with future research plans.

Links mentioned on the podcast:

Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into Sleep Health Awareness

Stair walking is more energizing than low dose caffeine in sleep-deprived young women.

Dr Bin’s work and research

Are You A Sucker For The Lollie Jar At Work? Try These Orange Jellies Instead.

As tired, weary shift workers it’s not surprising that we’re lured in by the lollie jar at work, as a source of energy for our sleep-deprived brains.

But have you ever taken the time to read the ingredients label of some of these packaged lollies?

Let me share an example to help prove my point:

Exhibit A

Ingredients:  Glucose Syrup ( Wheat  Or Corn), Cane Sugar, Thickener (Dextrin Roasted Starch, Acid Treated Starch Or Starch Acetate)( Wheat ), Gelatine, Food Acids (Citric, Lactic), Invert Syrup, Flavours, Colours (Carminic Acid, Turmeric, Vegetable Carbon, Paprika Oleoresin, Copper Chlorophyllin, Black Carrot).   Contains Wheat. May Contain Milk.

As you can see, there are lots of extra “bonuses” included in that packet, besides the glucose itself.

It’s what makes these 3-ingredient jellies or “lollies” a much healthier alternative.

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Sleep Loss and Glucose Regulation.

This is why shift work and a diet high in refined and processed sugars is not a good mix.

Results published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism identified how just one night of sleep deprivation caused a 40% reduction in the body’s ability to handle glucose.

What does this mean?

Quite simply, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body struggles to keep your blood sugar in check

Given consistently elevated blood sugar can damage blood vessels and contribute to cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes … shift workers need to know this stuff!!

Unfortunately it becomes a bit of a Catch-22.

When we’re sleep deprived, our body screams out for sugar, because the brain is seeking out a source of energy to help it to function and remain alert.

But too much sugar – AKA donuts, cakes, biscuits, energy drinks etc, (in lieu of sufficient amounts of protein, healthy fats and fibre), can lead to blood sugar dysregulation and inflammation.

So please be mindful of your sugar intake whilst working 24/7 – not just from a weight gain perspective, but to help reduce your risk factors for developing other chronic health conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease.

Audra x