The Sesame Seed: It May Be Small In Size But It's Packed With Nutritional Goodness!

As I delve further into my Nutritional Medicine degree, I’m always on the look-out for foods containing ingredients which can provide nourishment and energy specifically for sleep-deprived shift workers.

And the humble sesame seed is one of them.

Sesame Seeds are one of the most underrated foods.

The seeds are very nutrient-dense so you don’t have to eat a lot of them and although they might be small in size – they’re jam packed with beneficial nutrients including copper, magnesium and calcium.

Four Health Benefits of Sesame Seeds:

1. They are a low GI food which means they are a good source of slow release energy, which helps to keep blood sugar levels stable and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Perfect for those of us who have to wait a while for our next meal break!

2. They aid digestion (constipation is very popular amongst shift workers), and help to calm the nervous system. I don’t know about you but I’m all for anything that helps to lower my stress levels and feelings of frazzleness! Not sure if that’s actually a word but anyway :-).

3. The magnesium helps to restore normal sleep patterns (as best they can when you work 24/7), particularly for women going through menopause.

4. The high calcium content can also help in the prevention of migraine headaches and PMS symptoms.

So there you go – lots of benefits for including sesame seeds into your diet!

How To Include Sesame Seeds Into Your Diet:

– Adding a spoonful to your smoothie for an alkalizing mineral boost.
– Throwing some into your homemade bread, muffins or cookies.
– Spreading tahini (sesame paste) on toasted bread with a drizzle of honey.
– Make your own salad dressing by combining toasted sesame seeds with rice vinegar, soy sauce and crushed garlic.
– A great addition to any stir-fry dinner mixed with garlic, soy sauce and ginger.

So never underestimate the power of something small. The humble sesame seed is the perfect example of this!

Can't Sleep Through The Night? A Shift Worker's Biggest Mistake!

If you’re a shift worker who is struggling to sleep through the night, then you’re probably walking around in a zombie like state of extreme exhaustion.

Of course there are many reasons why this may be so, but have you ever looked closely at your eating habits?

Because if you can’t sleep through the night, a shift worker’s biggest mistake can often be from consuming an excessively large meal before going to bed.

Eating a big meal is going to interfere with your sleeping mechanisms as a large meal requires a lot of energy for it to be digested properly.

In fact the absorption of possible stimulating agents in the diet plus the release of hormones in the intestines after the heavy meal can keep you awake for the greater part of the night. It can also alter the quality of the sleep that you have which is certainly not good news if you’re a sleep-deprived shift worker.

Some shift workers may even experience vivid dreams following a heavy meal at bedtime and are more likely to wake up feeling hung over and heavy.

So if you can’t sleep through the night, the best solution is to eat a very light snack of salad as the last meal of the day.

If you feel you must have something before going to bed try:

1. A glass of water
2. A vegetable juice or
3. A herbal tea

As any of these three drinks are probably the best and safest snack to have at this time of the day (or night) – depending on your roster.

In this way, not only are you giving your body and brain a rest, but your gastrointestinal tract is given a rest as well allowing for a more restful night’s sleep.

Getting Enough Sleep – A Constant Battle For Shift Workers Around The World.

Getting enough sleep when you’re a shift worker can certainly be an uphill battle. Achieving that good quality, restorative sleep can so often elude the already sleep-deprived shift worker.

So what can you do to help ensure that you are getting enough sleep?

Well the most important bit of advice that I can give you is actually often the most overlooked, and it’s called making your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Some simple tips include the following:

1. Your bedroom environment should calm you. That means no computers, televisions, mobile phones, violent reading material or dirty clothes – all of these can make you feel anxious and keep you awake.

If you must keep some electronics in your bedroom, make sure you turn them off before bedtime and keep them out of your sight.

2. A slightly cool room can help enhance your sleep – about 18 degrees is considered a good bench mark. This is because it matches what occurs deep inside the body, when the body’s internal temperature drops during the night to its lowest level.

3. In addition the darker it is when you sleep, the better your melatonin production and the better the quality of your sleep. So to block out light from outside, always draw your blinds or curtains and turn those brightly lit digital clocks around so you can’t see them.

Getting enough sleep if you’re a shift worker is certainly hard to do, but it’s important to realise how your bedroom environment plays an enormous role in both the quality and quantity of your sleep. And the good news for shift workers is that this is something that you can change quite easily.