HSW 99 – Shift Scheduling and Chronotypes with Michael Wieden.

This week we’re heading all the way to Germany to chat with Michael Wieden, the founder of Aliamos, a company that works with organisations to improve the health and well-being of employees by taking into consideration the unique biological rhythms of individuals.

Things we discuss:

1. What is chronobiology, and why is it important for shift workers to understand its significance?
2. What are chronotypes and how do they influence our ability to work specific shifts?
3. How incorporating plant-based food options into workplace canteens is improving the health of employees.
4. Why the mindset of the employer is key in rolling out successful health and wellbeing programs.

Links mentioned on the podcast:
Michael’s website – http://www.wieden.com/ and https://www.aliamos.de/
Michael’s email – wieden@aliamos.de
Michael’s Instagram account – liquidworker

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.

Sleep Nutrition:

The Most Important Dietary Advice For Shift Workers

Sleep.  If you’ve ever worked shift work before, then you’d be very much aware that this type of nourishment is the “food” that we crave the most, however often eludes many who work 24/7.

This can lead to poor dietary choices, as we fall into the trap of feeling “too tired” to eat well.

However this can be a bit of a Catch-22.

This is because not only can disrupted sleep affect your nutritional intake, but if you eat poorly it can also affect your sleep.

A bit of a double edged sword for anyone working 24/7.

Now given shift workers get on average 2-3 hours less sleep than our 9-5 counterparts (staggering when you compound this over weeks, months and years), sleep nutrition really needs to be given the utmost priority when working in an occupation that requires you to run on limited sleep.

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HSW 41 – Social Media, Blue Light and Sleep.

Healthy Shift Worker Episode:

This week’s episode is all about things that can disrupt our sleep which is not great when we’re already running on a deficit thanks to a sleep-disrupted lifestyle – and they include social media and blue-light.

Whilst as a Nutritionist, a lot of my clinical focus when working with my patients is around food, nutrition and supplementation, when it comes to enhancing our sleep and trying to repay countless hours of sleep-debt, no amount of tryptophan and melatonin containing foods, along with micro-nutrient supplementation of magnesium, calcium and potassium can compete with the negative effects of blue-light.

In this episode, I discuss how the blue-light emitting from our electronic devices is a type of ‘zeitgeber’ which can severely disrupt our sleep onset, quality and quantity. It’s also an endocrine disruptor, as it suppresses the production of our sleepy hormone melatonin, and activates arousal-promoting orexin neurons, along with stimulating our sympathetic nervous system involved in the stress response.

Links mentioned on the podcast:

Facebook Use Associated with Compromised Well-Being: A Longitudinal Study.

Overnight Oats with Chia and Cherry Puree:

The Perfect Post Night Shift Breakfast!

What’s great about them?

  • The beauty of overnight oats, is they can be made the night before so make for a great breakfast option after night shift.
  • Cherries contain melatonin, a hormone required to induce sleep.
  • Both oats and cherries contain tryptophan, which help the body to produce melatonin.
  • Cinnamon helps to improve the efficiency of insulin, which assists in the regulation of blood sugar levels.  If our blood sugar drops too low whilst we’re sleeping, it can trigger the adrenal glands to release stress hormones that help raise blood sugar back to a safe level.  Whilst this is a good thing for our survival, this same stress response can be enough to wake us up from our peaceful slumber – which is not a good thing when we’re already running on little sleep!

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