HSW 83: How Better Sleep Leads To Weight Loss

In today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about how better sleep leads to weight loss because there’s always so much emphasis and focus around nutrition and exercise when it comes to weight loss, and rightly so – however, sleep is often the missing link.

We discuss:

  1.  How sleep deprivation and disruption messes with our appetite-regulating hormones.
  2. Why our bodies instinctively crave sugar (or carbohydrates) instead of healthy fats and protein when we haven’t had enough sleep.
  3. Why sleep deprivation is a form of stress on our body that impairs fat burning.
  4. Three things that you may be inadvertently doing that is worsening your sleep disruption, in addition to the shift work itself, which is going to have a negative impact on weight loss.

Better Sleep – The Missing Link To Sustainable Weight Loss:

Your Best New Year's Resolution For 2019!


As we close the door on yet another year, I have to ask – “is one of your New Year’s resolutions to lose weight?”

As a shift worker immersed in a sleep disrupted lifestyle, I’d say the chances of you replying to that question with a “yes”, is pretty high.

Why?  Well generally speaking, the less we sleep, the more we’re going to weigh.

I know what you’re thinking – “that sucks!”

I agree.  It does.  But the thing is, when we’re sleep deprived, there are 3 distinct things or biochemical changes which occur within our body, that if we ignore, can fast track us down the express lane to weight gain before we’ve even had a chance to see it coming!

  1. When we haven’t had enough sleep, our body instinctively seeks out energy that it didn’t get during a restorative night’s rest.What does that mean?  Well the quickest and easiest source of energy that our body can use is, you guessed it – sugar!  Or more scientifically, glucose, which means if you don’t get sufficient sleep, you’re going to have some serious carbohydrate cravings.
  2. When we haven’t had enough sleep, it dysregulates our appetite-regulating hormones ‘ghrelin’ and ‘leptin’.  Ghrelin is a hormone that gets released to increase our appetite, whereas leptin is a hormone that lets you know when you’re feeling full.  The problem when we’re sleep deprived, is ghrelin becomes elevated making us feel hungrier than normal, whilst at the same time, leptin becomes suppressed meaning you’re not going to receive that “I’m feeling full” signal which can lead to overeating and subsequent weight gain.So yes, you do have a valid, scientific explanation (or shall we say ‘justification’) as to why you polished off 1/2 packet of Tim Tams in your meal break!
  3. When we haven’t had enough sleep, it increases a stress hormone in our body called cortisol. While it’s a great hormone to have around when you need to slam on your breaks in traffic, its not good to have high amounts of it floating around on a consistent basis.  This is because cortisol raises our blood sugar, which in turn, raises our insulin levels.  Like with anything in excess, too much insulin can lead in the development of a condition called insulin resistance, which reduces our body’s ability to burn fat often leading in the development of weight gain around the abdomen or belly region.

So whilst what we eat is important when it comes to sustainable weight loss – it’s certainly by no means, the be all and end all.

Instead of following the crowd and focussing all of your attention on a restrictive, unsustainable diet for your New Year’s Resolution (which let’s face it, most have usually given up by the 2nd week of January anyway!), my recommendation for you, is to take on a completely different approach.

That being focussing on improving both the quality and quantity of your sleep, because this is going to help your body to experience less sugar cravings and hormonal dysregulation, which will inadvertently help you to lose weight anyway!

And let’s face it, who doesn’t want better sleep – especially when working 24/7!

Audra x

 

References:

Greer, S, Goldstein, A & Walker, M 2013, ‘The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain’, Nature Communications, vol. 4, no. 2259.

Hirotsu, C, Tufik, S & Anderson, M 2015, ‘Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism:  From physiological to pathological conditions’, Sleep Science, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 143-142.

Taheri, S, Lin, L, Austin, D, Young, T & Mignot, E 2004, ‘Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index’, PLoS Medicine, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 210-217.

HSW 70: Split Sleep with Dr Melinda Jackson

“Can splitting the timing of sleep reduce the adverse effects of night shift work?”

It’s an interesting question, and one which was put forward by Dr Melinda Jackson who I met at the recent Sleep Down Under Conference here in Brisbane a few weeks ago.  Melinda is a researcher and registered psychologist, specialising in sleep disorders based at RMIT University in Melbourne, and has undertaken a lot of research in this area both here in Australia and overseas.

Given many shift workers often experience various degrees of broken and/or disrupted sleep depending on their location and occupation, this episode has been dedicated to discussing all things to do with alertness, productivity, performance and health when it comes to split sleep.

What you’re going to learn:

  • What exactly is split or segmented sleep?
  • The two processes of sleep, and why we need to have both in order to sleep well
  • Does undertaking split sleep pose any additional risks on our level of alertness or health?
  • What are some of the benefits to splitting in two segments?
  • Naps before nightshift – are they a good thing?
  • Are we putting too much pressure on ourselves to sleep in one chunk?

Links mentioned on the podcast:
Australasian Sleep Association
RMIT University

Blood Sugar Stabilising Smoothie:

Liquid Nutrition for Early or Night Shifts!

When it comes to shift work nutrition, there are four things that we need to focus on when working nights or early shifts:

  1. Consuming foods that will help to sustain us through the shift, as our bodies struggle to remain alert as a result of both sleep disruption and deprivation.
  2. Foods that will help to stabilise our blood sugar levels so we don’t fall under the hypnotic spell of the vending machine which is often filled with sugar-laden, man-made “foods” that not only add to the waistlines, but increase inflammation in the body too.
  3. Consuming foods that are easy on the digestive tract given sleep disruption can make us prone to intestinal permeability, otherwise known as ‘leaky gut’.
  4. If on nights, consuming foods that aren’t going to interfere with our sleep when returning home from our shift.

This is why I like home-made smoothies, as they’re a great source or “liquid nutrition” as the body is able to absorb the nutrients much more effectively and efficiently, without making us feel even more tired as the body tries to break down and absorb hard-to-digest food particles.

In addition, when we include a good cross section of ingredients – as in a serving of protein, fat and complex carbohydrates it becomes an all-in-one “macronutrient balanced meal”.

This means it will help to keep us feeling fuller for longer, and help to stabilise our blood glucose levels so we’re less likely to fall “victim” to the not-so-healthy processed-food-laden vending machines.

Here’s one to get you inspired!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon protein powder (I use Pea or Inca Inchi)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 cup of ice cubes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or ½ teaspoon nutmeg

How to make it!

Throw all of the ingredients into a blender and enjoy immediately, or transfer into a small thermos and store in the fridge at work to enjoy mid-shift!

 

References:

Ali, T, Choe, J, Awab, A, Wagener, T & Orr, W 2013, ‘Sleep, immunity and inflammation in gastrointestinal disorders’, World Journal of Gastroenterology, vol. 19. no. 48, pp. pp. 9231-9239.

Crispim, C, Zimberg, I, Gomes dos Reis, B, Diniz, R, Tufik, S & Tulio de Mello, M 2011, ‘Relationship between food intake and sleep pattern in healthy individuals’, Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, vol. 7, no. 6, pp. 659-664.

Wehrens, S, Hampton, S, Kerkhofs, M & Skene, D 2012, ‘Mood, alertness, and performance in response to sleep deprivation and recovery sleep in experienced shiftworkers versus non-shiftworkers’, Chronobiology International, vol. 29, no. 5, pp. 537-548.

HSW 67 – Sleep Debt: What Is It, And How Can We Minimise It with Audra Starkey

In this episode I go solo and discuss a phenomenon called ‘Sleep Debt’, which given the irregular hours and rotational rosters that many shift workers are required to work, is a situation experienced by many who work 24/7.

In this episode you’re going to learn:
– What exactly is ‘sleep debt’, and why are shift workers prone to it.
– Some of the short-term and long-term effects of sleep debt
– The million dollar question – can we pay it back?
– Some tips and strategies to help reduce and minimise this sleep debt

Links mentioned on the podcast:

For more information about Audra’s Healthy Shift Workers Workshops, email Audra at audra@healthyshiftworker.com