“Sleep. Why it’s even more important than nutrition.”
Sound like an odd statement coming from a Nutritionist?!
Perhaps so, but for the last 2 years I’ve been working with clients one-on-one, and have noticed a missing link in those who are getting great results and feeling much healthier, versus those who are not.
So you’re probably wondering, “what’s this missing link?”
Well it’s actually kind of obvious, particularly if you’re a shift worker, but it’s Sleep.
Because we all know when we work 24/7, sleep can be a very scarce resource. In fact, almost non-existant on some days!
However despite this enormous challenge faced by every single shift worker out around the world, those who appear to “have it all together” so-to-speak, truly value their sleep.
In fact sleep is their absolute NUMBER ONE priority.
Not nutrition, not exercise, but sleep.
Because let’s face it. It’s very hard to make in-roads with our health when we’re consistently running on little sleep.
And that’s the difference.
For shift workers, sleep disruption or deprivation is not an ‘occasional’ event. Sleep deprivation is a part of their life. I like to think of it as one of the “perks” to your job, that your employer forgot to mention in your job interview!
But let’s get back to nutrition.
As a fully-fledged nutritionist, I am by no means discounting the importance of nutrition. Absolutely not. It’s a fundamentally important element of our health and wellbeing, however I’m merely pointing out that if you’re drinking a turmeric latte whilst scrolling through social media on your smart phone at 10pm, knowing that you start work at 4am, then you’re pretty much offsetting all of those nutritional benefits – at the expense of your sleep.
Because it’s really important to understand, that sleep is right up there with water and the air that we breathe on the importance scale!
It is an absolutely essential, non-negotiable part of our health, which is why shift workers are incredible human beings, because they work against their natural circadian rhythms or body clock almost every single day.
But let’s compare the two.
- If you were to go without food for a week (which I’m definitely not recommending by the way), you would feel weak, tired and lethargic, but generally overall you would still be OK.
- If however, you were to go without sleep for a week, you would barely be able to function! Your entire body would begin to shut down and if this sleep deprivation continues long enough, you could even start having hallucinations, when you begin to see or hear things that aren’t even there.
Not exactly an enticing picture, that’s for sure.
So if you’re working really hard on your nutrition and you’ve been moving away from your once highly-processed diet, then I’d like to say that’s awesome – really it is! Eating well can be an enormous challenge when we feel continually tired all of the time.
If however, you’re knowingly or unknowingly sabotaging your sleep whilst working 24/7, then perhaps it’s time to redirect your focus a little, and make sleep your number 1 priority.
Big shift working hugs,
P.S: If you’re feeling lost on how to fine-tune your sleep whilst working 24/7, I’m very excited to announce the launch of my brand-spanking new ‘Better Sleep Program’ – exclusively for shift workers. So if you would like to really drill down and find ways to improve the quality of your sleep despite erratic rosters, then Click Here to watch a video to learn more.
Alhola, P & Polo-Kantola, P 2007, ‘Sleep deprivation: impact on cognitive performance’, Neuropsychiatry Disease and Treatment, vol. 3, no. 5, pp. 553-567