Stress, Gut Health and Shift Work:

As a shift worker plagued by exhaustion, I’m pretty sure you will remember a time when you experienced digestive discomfort whether that’s in the form of bloating, stomach pain or nausea, and it was most likely during a night shift, or soon after getting up for an early shift.

But why is that?

Well its because lack of sleep or sleep disruption, is essentially a form of stress, and stress plays a huge role in digestion and bowel function.

Essentially nerves to the bowel get affected by stress, which can impair nutrient absorption leading to poor bowel function.

Whenever the body is under stress or faced with a stressful situation, (whether it be real or perceived as real) digestion no longer becomes a priority.  This leads to a reduction in gut motility or muscle contractions along the digestive tract; less saliva being produced in the mouth; along with a reduction in gastric acid secretion in the stomach which in turn, impairs the digestion of our food.

As a bit of a catch-22, feelings of exhaustion often begins in the gut as the gut is the main source of nourishment for the rest of the body.  So if your digestion is not working well thanks to a disruptive sleep/wake cycle, then nutrient absorption becomes impaired leading to a further lack of energy.

Please find below my 3 Tips to Reduce Bowel Discomfort (and Improve Energy) Whilst Working 24/7:

Chew well – this might sound silly, but many of us inhale our food at a rate of knots often because we’re in a hurry.  That being said, its really important to chew our food well, as this allows the food to be coated in enzymes produced in our saliva and become pre-digested.  This enables the small intestine to absorb the nutrients from the smaller, pre-digested food particles much more efficiently.

When you’ve got to go, go! – Neglecting the call of nature can lead to a build up of faeces or stagnation in the bowel, which in turn can lead to toxic waste filtering into the blood stream.

Add chia seeds into your diet – these tiny seeds are a great source of insoluble fibre which enables them to absorb up to 10-12 times their weight in water.  When the seeds absorb water, they become moist and turn into a gel-like substance which improves bowel formation enabling them to pass more easily.  Sprinkle onto porridge, soups or salads, or better still, why don’t you try my Overnight Oats with Chia and Cherry Puree!

Audra x


  1. Sarah

    As a shift worker and a mum to a 4yo & 2yo, I’ve just been diagnosed with hiatus hernia and gastritis following gas/colon scopes. My body has been struggling big time since having glandular fever in 2016. It’s been a long road. But now I’ve got big changes to my life coming up. I can’t go on this way. My body is trying to talk to me and only now is my wake up call to listen to it. All tips Welcome. Love your page Audra.


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