Sleepy Cinnamon and Walnut Latte:

A Beverage for Sleep Deprived Shift Workers

As shift workers, falling asleep and staying asleep can be one of our biggest challenges when working 24/7.  In fact ironically, we can find ourselves in a state where we’re actually too exhausted to sleep – a cruel scenario given all we want to do is catch up on some much needed zeds!

But this “too exhausted to sleep” scenario can happen for a number of reasons (and not just as a result of working shift work), when our bodies become “stuck” in a state of constant overstimulation.  This is essentially when the nervous system becomes so “wired”, that it prevents the body from being able to relax and unwind.

This may occur as a result of a dysregulation in the stress hormone cortisol, a thyroid disorder such as Hashimoto’s, or even due to intestinal parasites being found in the digestive tract – to name a few!

Yewwww!  I know right!

Anyway, whilst it may be necessary to undertake further diagnostic testing to eliminate (or at the very least identify if any of the above scenarios are contributory factors to your insomnia), in the interim this Cinnamon and Walnut Latte may help to improve your sleep.

Now I know what you’re thinking – we can’t drink coffee before bed!

Yes, I agree entirely with you.

Except this “latte” is totally caffeine free.  In fact it’s even dairy free, which is a good thing because consuming dairy can actually trigger an inflammatory response in some people, which in itself sets off a whole cascade of stress hormones that is going to impact on your sleep.

But I’ll save that for another post.  In the meantime, let’s talk all about the Cinnamon and Walnut Latte.

What’s great about it?

  • It contains walnuts which contain melatonin, a sleep regulating hormone that is necessary for sleep to occur.  Research has shown consuming walnuts actually increases blood melatonin concentrations levels.
  • Melatonin in itself, is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect the body against oxidative stress, which occurs as a result of toxic molecules called free radicals.
  • Walnuts are a rich source of omega 3 EFA’s (essential fatty acids) which help to improve cognitive function as the brain, which is made up of 60% fat, requires omega 3 fats to function properly.
  • They also contain a variety of other bioactive compounds, such as vitamin E and polyphenols which are phytochemicals found in plant foods that help to protect the body against oxidative stress.

Ingredients (makes 20)

  • 1 cup of walnuts (soaked for 2 hours)
  • 4 cups of filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey, to serve
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon, to serve

How to make them!

Combine the walnuts, water and vanilla paste in a high-speed blender.  Blend for at least 30 seconds.  The longer the better as this will help to create a creamy, white texture.

Pour one cup of walnut “milk” into a saucepan, and heat up gently on the stove top.

Once heated through, pour into a mug and serve with 1 teaspoon of raw honey and cinnamon for a bit of added sweetness.  Both the honey and cinnamon help to balance blood sugar levels, which is vital in preventing intermittent awakenings or that broken sleep which can also be the bane of our existence when we’re trying to optimise our sleep!

Audra x

P.S:  For an even smoother, creamier texture, strain the milk through a fine sieve or nut milk bag to remove the walnut sediment.

Please note:  this beverage is not a sleep elixir, but rather a beverage that, combined with optimal sleep hygiene practices may aid in the process of sleep.

 

References:

Bozkurt, N, Karbek, B, Cakal, E, Firat, H, Ozbek, M & Delibasi T 2012, ‘The association between severity of obstructive sleep apnea and prevalence of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis’, Endocrinology Journal, vol. 59, no. 11, pp. 981-988.

Bush B & Hudson, T 2010, ‘The role of cortisol in sleep’, Natural Medicine Journal, vol. 2, no. 6.

Ibarra-Coronado, E, Pantaleon-Martinez, A, Velazquez-Moctezuma, J, Prospero-Garcia, O, Mendez-Diaz, M, Perez-Tapia, M, Pavon, L & Morales-Montor, J 2015, ‘The bidirectional relationship between sleep and immunity against infections’, Journal of Immunology Research, vol. 2015.

Reiter, R, Manchester, L & Tan D 2005, ‘Melatonin in walnuts:  influence on levels of melatonin and total antioxidant capacity of blood, Nutrition, vol. 21, no. 9, pp. 920-924.

Sanchez-Gonzalez, C, Ciudad C, Noe, V & Izquierdo-Pulido M 2017, ‘Health benefits of walnut polyphenols:  An exploration beyond their lipid profile’, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, vol. 57, no. 16, pp. 3373-3383.

Do You Really Understand The Consequences of Poor Sleep?

Yesterday I was talking to a potential client, who was bit unsure and hesitant about working with me, so I decided to ask her a few questions regarding her current lifestyle habits.

Because let’s face it, our diet and lifestyle habits are often one of the firsts thing to turn pear- shaped when we begin working 24/7!

But I also I asked her this question:

“Do you really understand some of the consequences of poor sleep?  Like really understand some of the consequences?”

Like many shift workers – she didn’t.

I mean she’d certainly heard about them, but had chosen to either ignore them or had gone into “oh, that won’t happen to me mode” – like so many people who work 24/7 do.

So let’s share some of the consequences of poor and/or insufficient sleep – and how it raises your risk of developing certain health conditions:

  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Weight Gain
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cognitive Decline
  • Depleted Immune system
  • Strained Relationships … to name a few!

Not to mention, we’re more likely to become reliant on sleep medications – many of which are not designed for long term use, and can come with some nasty side-effects.

Worse still, when we haven’t had sufficient quality sleep – we’re prone to making mistakes and/or being involved in an accident when we’re tired.

Multiple studies have shown that even moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments equivalent to those of alcohol intoxication.   After 17 to 19 hours without sleep, performance is equivalent or worse than that of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.05 percent.  This effectively makes you a drunk driver – without having a single drop of alcohol.

So please keep this in mind the next time you decide to sign up for a double shift!

Quite simply, there isn’t one area of your life that IS NOT affected by lack of sleep.

Now if you’ve been following my work for a while, you know that your health is important to me.  Gosh, I even walked away from a career that I loved, in order to go back to “school” and learn all that I could about shift work health, so that I could then go on, and help as many people as I could.

Right now, I’m looking for a handful of people who are committed to taking care of their sleep (and health), and are prepared to do whatever it takes NOT TO become one of the “sleep deprived statistics” that I’ve shared above.

On the other hand, if you don’t care about raising your risks of developing cardiovascular disease, gaining weight, developing Type 2 Diabetes and/or having a depleted immune system – at least do it for the sake of your relationships and/or family.  I’m sure they don’t want you to become one of those statistics – even if you don’t!

And now for the good news.

I’ve just opened up limited spots for the beta launch of my ‘7 Day Better Sleep Kickstart Program’ to take people through a step-by-step process to improve their sleep – despite working 24/7.

So if you care about your health, then let’s talk.

Book your Better Sleep Strategy session with me today (it’s Free!) by Clicking Right Here – and let’s get your sleep (and health) sorted once and for all!

Audra x

P.S:  If you don’t believe me when I say that sleep affects us in this way, feel free to read the research article below as it goes into great detail of some of the short-term and long-term health consequences of poor sleep.  The reality is, we can no longer afford to ignore the importance of sleep, and how it affects our overall health and wellbeing.  If we do, it’s only a matter of time before our health begins to suffer.

 

Reference:

Medic, G, Wille, M & Hemels, M 2017, ‘Short and long-term health consequences  of sleep disruption’, Nature and Science of Sleep, vol. 9, pp. 151-161.

HSW 62: When It’s Time To Drop A Few Balls with Audra Starkey

Today’s episode is super short as I go solo and talk about what’s going on behind the scenes at Healthy Shift Worker Inc.

Given it’s 2018 and we’re currently living in a world where when we ask people “how are you going?” – it’s often replied in an almost automatic response of “I’m just so busy”.

But why is that?  How have we morphed into a society where we’re trying to juggle so many things at once, which means pushing ourselves to a point where our bodies never really get enough downtime to rest and recuperate properly.  This is not great for anyone, but it’s even worse if you’re doing so on limited amounts of sleep – AKA working 24/7.

In this very short episode, I talk about:

  • Why “dropping a few balls” can be a great thing for our health, and what “ball” I have decided to drop for awhile.
  • What I’m going to be doing now that I’ve dropped this one ball – even for a short period of time.
  • Another big announcement that is going to be great for anyone living in Australia!

Links mentioned in the podcast:

Better Sleep Intensive Program

Healthy Shift Worker Workplace Wellness Workshops

To secure a 2 for 1 pass to the Wellness Summit Click Here

HSW 59: Better Sleep and Anxiety with Midwife Tomi Warren

Healthy Shift Worker Podcast:

This week we head all the way to California to chat with one of my Better Sleep Program clients – Tomi Warren, who has been working shift work for 11 years as a Midwife.

As a Midwife, Tomi often works with mum’s and babies in emergency situations so being able to make complex decisions quickly and decisively, all whilst working in a stressful environment is absolutely critical.

In this episode, Tomi shares her personal story of how ongoing sleep deprivation was having such a negative impact on her health and ability to make decisions, to a point where she even began to experience hallucinations.  This eventually manifested into a severe anxiety around being unable to get sufficient sleep – a Catch-22 which led to feelings of hopelessness and depression.

Tomi’s heart warming story of how she managed to turn her life around by reducing her anxiety and improving her sleep (and health), is absolutely inspiring.

Links mentioned in the podcast:
Audra’s Better Sleep Intensive Program – https://www.audrastarkey.com/case-study

HSW 51 – Sympathetic Dominance with Dr Wayne Todd.

Healthy Shift Worker Podcast:

Over the past 2 years or so of recording podcast episodes, I’ve occasionally mentioned the words ‘sympathetic dominance’, as it’s a condition that I quite often see in many of my patients who work 24/7, in particular those who struggle to get good quality sleep.

Otherwise known as the ‘fight or flight’ arm of our autonomic nervous system, sympathetic dominance is when our bodies become ‘stuck’ in this fight or flight stress response for long durations at a time.

Unfortunately for shift workers, ongoing sleep deprivation actually makes us quite prone to this overactive stimulation of our nervous system which can lead to a whole host of chronic health complaints from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and weight gain, along with the suppression of our reproductive and immune system.  In addition, it becomes a bit of a Catch-22, in that sympathetic dominance actually switches off our parasympathetic nervous system, which plays a fundamentally important role in our ability to rest and sleep.

To discuss this topic in greater detail, I’ve brought in Dr Wayne Todd who is a chiropractor based in Sale, Victoria, who has written an entire book on sympathetic dominance titled ‘SD Protocol – Achieve greater health by learning to balance your physical, chemical and emotional wellbeing‘.

Tune in to hear Dr Todd go into some of the physical, chemical and emotional causes behind sympathetic dominance, and what we can do as shift workers to help dampen down this stress response.  This will in turn, have a positive flow on effect of reducing some of our risks of developing these chronic health conditions, along with improving the quality of our sleep.

Links mentioned in the podcast:

http://www.sdprotocol.com.au