HSW 45 – Shift Work Cognition with Emily Breese.

Healthy Shift Worker Podcast Episode:

Do you struggle with poor memory?  Perhaps you leave sticky notes everywhere as a reminder so that you don’t forget things?  Well if you work shift work, chances are you answered “yes” to that question and have experienced bouts of ‘forgetfulness’ thanks to your sleep deprived lifestyle.

In this episode I chat with Emily Breese, who is a PhD student from UK’s Open University, and is based in Milton Keynes, a town just outside of London, in the United Kingdom.  Emily is currently conducting a research study on some of the affects of shift work (including the disruption to our circadian rhythm, or sleep/wake cycle), and how this affects our cognitive function.

Emily is looking for shift workers to be a part this study, so if you’re interested in participating or wanting to learn more, contact Emily via the links below:

Email – emily.breese@open.ac.uk

Twitter – @emily_louise548

The Results Are In!

Shift Work DOES Impair Our Cognitive Function.

Sleepy Brain character

As we get ready to close the door on 2015 and make way for 2016, I’m in a bit of celebration mode right now and it’s not even New Year’s Eve!

If you’re wondering why it’s because my end of semester University results have been published, and I’m happy to report I managed to pass everything.

Phew! A major relief.

This means I’m officially about to head into my final year of my Nutritional Medicine degree and I could not be happier – be it a little bit nervous at the same time.

However I’m even more proud of myself (and I’m sure you will be able to relate to this one), because for years I struggled to remember things – which I put down to a life of continual sleep-deprivation.

After a string of early shifts, I would often struggle to concentrate and make decisions, and even felt a little “forgetful” at times.

Not ideal for someone who, at the time, was only in her 30’s.

However as I was scrolling through a pile of research papers, I stumbled across a study of 1484 shift workers which confirmed a strong association between working 24/7 and impaired cognition, particularly if you’d worked shift work for more than 10 years (*).


Sleep Deprivation and Memory Loss: A Smoothie To Help Boost The Brain Cells!

Young girl thinking with glowing brain illustrationDo you have days when your brain is foggy and you forget even the littlest of things?  Well it’s not surprising as more and more research shows a direct link between sleep deprivation, cognitive impairment and memory loss.

As so many of our occupations require us to work long or erratic hours 24/7, it can certainly be hard to concentrate, make informed decisions and learn new things when your brain hasn’t fully recovered from a good night or day’s “rest”.

Whenever we are chronically tired from low-quality sleep or sleep deprivation, we do not perform well; it affects our mood and ability to concentrate; along with not being able to remember and retain new information.

Although sleep deprivation affects people in a variety of ways, it’s certain that a good night’s rest can help enhance our ability to learn and remember things which is why it’s important not to get angry with yourself if you’re having one of those days where you just can’t seem to remember anything!

So today I thought I’d whizz up a brain boosting smoothie which would make a great early shift breakfast or an ideal snack if you have to endure the dreaded night shift!


  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 6 walnuts
  • 1/2 scoop pea protein powder
  • 1.5 cups of coconut water


Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth texture is reached.

Note:   If you are taking this into work, place in a glass jar or thermos and give it a good shake before serving.  Enjoy.

Recipe adapted from Dr Josh Axe Brain Boosting Smoothie