Why Prioritising Your Sleep Is Important – REALLY Important.

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!

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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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HSW 97: Becoming a Healthy Shift Worker with Roger Sutherland.

A healthy shift worker – myth or a reality?

In today’s episode, we discuss this exact topic with Roger Sutherland who has been a police officer for over 35 years, and is part of an emergency services family with a son, daughter and partner who also work 24/7.

Some of the things that we discuss include:

  1. Roger’s heart-warming story of how he wanted to become a police officer since he was 2-years old.
  2. Some of the health struggles he faced later in his career including being crippled in pain from Sacroiliitis, and what he did to overcome it.
  3. How years of poor dietary choices, sedentary behaviour and undervaluing his sleep would have been a contributing factor in the development of his poor health and chronic pain.
  4. What made the most significant change in his health when he began to prioritise it?
  5. What is LISS training, and how it has helped him to incorporate exercise and movement into his lifestyle, without adding additional stress to his body – especially when on the night shift.
  6. How a shift in mindset played a pivotal role in helping him to transition from being an unhealthy shift worker, to one that is now healthy.

Links mentioned on the podcast:

Roger’s Instagram Account – https://www.instagram.com/roger_suth/
Roger’s A Healthy Shift Instagram Account – https://www.instagram.com/a_healthy_shift/
The Oura Ring – https://ouraring.com/

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.

HSW 96: Veterinarian Wellness with Dr Nadine Hamilton.

This week we’re chatting with Dr Nadine Hamilton, a psychologist, author and leading authority in veterinary wellbeing based on the Gold Coast.  She is the owner of Positive Psych Solutions, a boutique psychology practise that specialises in supporting the health and wellbeing of veterinary and wildlife professionals, and author of the best-selling book “Coping with Stress and Burnout as a Veterinarian”. 

Nadine’s passion for the industry led her to set up Love Your Pet Love Your Vet – a registered charity designed to raise awareness about the issues within the veterinary industry.

I absolutely loved talking with Nadine in this episode – she has an absolute heart of gold and her devotion to this industry is nothing short of inspiring!

Some of the things we talk about include:

  1. Why there’s such a high incidence of burnout and suicide in the veterinarian industry.
  2. The 5 biggest driving factors contributing to these statistics based on Nadine’s doctoral research.
  3. What can be done to reduce these high suicide rates?
  4. What led Nadine to set up the charity Love Your Pet, Love Your Vet.
  5. Nadine’s Top 3 tips for coping with some of the emotional trauma currently surrounding Australia’s unprecedented bushfires.
  6. Details on a wellbeing conference coming up on March 21-22 in beautiful Kingscliff, NSW, specifically for veterinary professionals.

Links mentioned on the podcast:

Positive Psych Solutions

Love Your Pet, Love Your Vet

Reach Out Wellbeing Conference in Kingscliff, NSW:  21-22 March 2020