The NUMBER ONE Food That I Avoid If I Want To Sleep Better …

The other day I had someone ask me, “Audra, what’s the number one food that you avoid when you want to sleep better?”

My answer?

SUGAR!!

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 = informationand 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.

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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.

Is Your Brain Getting A Signal That It’s Safe To Sleep?


Going to bed stressed will make it near in possible for you to sleep, because the body is in a state of ‘fight or flight’.

This fight or flight mode sends a signal to your brain that it’s actually not safe for you to sleep. Quite simply, you need to stay awake to fight off any predators – real or imagined!

When this happens the body produces cortisol, a hormone that works in opposition to melatonin – a hormone that helps to regulate sleep.

In other words, high cortisol = low melatonin = a delay to sleep onset.

Not ideal if you’re a shift worker – especially on those tight turnaround shifts when sleep is at a premium!

It’s why implementing strategies to help you to relax prior to getting into bed, is absolutely key in helping you to fall asleep.

Audra x

Putting Our Shift Working Jobs Into Perspective.

Having grown up in rural NSW and watched my house burn to the ground when I was just 7-years old, the images that we’re seeing right now of widespread bushfires around Australia is nothing short of heartbreaking.

The sheer devastation of loss including wildlife, livestock, property, vegetation and even human life, is gut-wrenching to see.

It’s why I feel it’s fitting to give a special shout out to all the firefighters who are on the front line, risking their own lives to help others 24/7.

Here’s just a snippet as to why:

✔️ Many of these firefighters are experiencing sleep deprivation on a whole new level.
✔️ Their “shifts” are longer than anyone should ever have to work.
✔️ They are having minimal meal breaks – if any.
✔️ Many are volunteers who have also taken leave without pay 💰 from their “real” jobs.
✔️ Despite being physically and emotionally exhausted, they keep going because they don’t want to let their communities down.
✔️ They are working in an extremely dangerous and hazardous environment 🔥.
✔️ They are subjected to a level of emotional distress that no one ever wants to experience – seeing countless burned wildlife and livestock, (and in some cases, the loss of human life).
✔️ Many are also working in the community in which they live. So when a house 🏡, or heaven forbid, a life is lost, it affects them right to the core.

So please join me in sending out an enormous gratitude of thanks for all of the incredible work that they are doing.

And the next time you’re experiencing a crappy shift at work, please keep in mind what the fire fighters are currently having to endure.

It definitely puts things into perspective and why they are truly deserving of the title of “HERO” – as I’m sure you would agree.

Audra x

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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