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!


HSW 37 – Sleep Disruption in Our Homes with Nicole Bijlsma.

Healthy Shift Worker Podcast Episode:

As shift workers, we certainly understand how working irregular hours causes havoc on our sleep, but something most of us don’t even think about, is how our home environment may be disrupting our sleep.

In this episode I chat with Nicole Bijlsma, a Naturopath, Acupuncturist, Building Biologist and author of the bestselling book – Healthy Home, Healthy Family.

Nicole shares some of her insights based on over 20 years of clinical practice and research, some of which includes exposure to electromagnetic fields, allergens, moulds and chemicals.


Shift Work Fatigue: Why Your Ability To Cope, May Be Influenced By Your Genes.

Have you ever noticed how some of your workmates seem to have this amazing ability to cope with working 24/7 ?  In other words, no matter how much time you invest in eating well, exercising and resting, your colleagues seem to be able to “bounce back” from ongoing and relentless sleep deprivation way better than you?

It kind of makes us a little jelly jealous don’t you think?!

But there could be a valid reason for this, and it may be due to your genes.

Now of course I’m not referring to the denim variety of “jeans”, but rather our “genes”, which make you the person that you are.

Genes are made of a chemical called DNA, which is short for ‘deoxyribonucleic acid’ and is comprised of two long, thin strands twisted around each other similar to a spiral staircase, just like the image above.

Our genes contain the information our bodies need to make proteins, which form the structure of our bodies, as well play an important role in the processes that keep us alive – so yes, they’re super important.

But what have our genes got to do with our ability to handle shift work?

Well in a study published in the journal – Sleep, a group of Finnish workers were analysed to determine if there were any genetic risk factors that highlighted an intolerance to shift work.

And the results were surprising.

The study, which was undertaken over a 12 month period, involved over 400 shift workers from two Finnish shift working groups – airline workers and nurses.  The results from the study indicated a variation in the melatonin receptor 1A (MTNR1A) gene, was linked to the job-related exhaustion experienced by shift workers.

This variation in the melatonin 1A (MTNR1A) gene, leads to a weaker signal of melatonin being produced in the brain, a hormone which is necessary to trigger sleep.

So whilst our chronotype can be an influential factor in how we tend to cope with working 24/7, which is a person’s propensity to sleep at a particular time of the 24-hour period, and plays a significant role in determining whether we’re a “morning” or “night” kind of person – our genes can also be an important factor too.

It may definitely provide some new insights into why some people are better adapted to shift work than others, given ongoing sleep deprivation and continual disruption to our daily rhythms forms a huge part of working 24/7.



US National Library of Medicine 2017, What is a gene?, Genetics Home Reference.

Sulkava S, Ollila HM, Alasaari J, Puttonen S, Härmä M, Viitasalo K, Lahtinen A, Lindström J, Toivola A, Sulkava R, Kivimäki M, Vahtera J, Partonen T, Silander K, Porkka-Heiskanen T, Paunio, T 2016, ‘Common genetic variation near melatonin receptor 1A gene linked to job-related exhaustion in shift workers’, Sleep, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 1-10.

Night Shift and Hormone Disruption:

What exactly happens to our hormones when we work 24/7?

I think we can all agree that night shift is pretty tough, actually let’s not sugar coat it, it’s incredibly tough.

Considering human beings, or more specifically shift workers, are the only creatures on the planet to completely disobey their biological clocks, it’s no wonder we struggle to function at 2am in the morning.

In fact, night shift feels a bit like driving around on a flat battery.

And no matter how many times we try to recharge this depleted battery, we still wake up feeling like we’ve just gone through the spin cycle of the washing machine – set on high!

We also tend to LOOK like we’ve just been through the spin cycle when we take that first glance in the mirror post night shift too {insert sad face here}.

But why is this so?  What exactly is happening when we stay up through the night?

Well one thing is for certain (which has been proven in countless clinical trials), is that it causes havoc on our hormones.


The Circadian Diet – What to Eat and When?

A Question I Get Asked a LOT in Clinic!

Food clock. Healthy food concept

One of the most common questions I get asked by shift workers in our student clinic at Endeavour College of Natural Health in Brisbane is – “What should I eat and when?”

This is a great question given shift workers rarely eat breakfast at “breakfast time”, nor do we necessarily eat dinner at “dinner time”.

I mean “breakfast” for anyone who happens to work 24/7 could be at 4am, or it may not be until midday – depending on your shift.

Given our body is carefully orchestrated by our natural circadian rhythms (the fancy word for our sleep/wake cycles), any variation from these rhythms can play havoc on our body temperature, blood pressure, mental alertness, hormone and neurotransmitter production along with countless other body functions including our gastrointestinal system.

This influence on our gastrointestinal system includes our metabolism, digestion, and absorption of nutrients from the food that we eat.

So in addition to what we eat, along with how much we eat, when we eat is also critical to our overall health and wellbeing.

This was illustrated in an 8-week clinical trial showing how eating mostly carbohydrates at lunch, and mostly protein at dinner, had damaging effects on glucose homeostasis (Alves et al. 2014).  This disruption to our blood glucose regulation can lead to an increased risk in the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

Which brings us to the “Circadian Diet”, or as it’s also referred to as “Chrononutrition”.