Is Your Brain Getting A Signal That It’s Safe To Sleep?


Going to bed stressed will make it near in possible for you to sleep, because the body is in a state of ‘fight or flight’.

This fight or flight mode sends a signal to your brain that it’s actually not safe for you to sleep. Quite simply, you need to stay awake to fight off any predators – real or imagined!

When this happens the body produces cortisol, a hormone that works in opposition to melatonin – a hormone that helps to regulate sleep.

In other words, high cortisol = low melatonin = a delay to sleep onset.

Not ideal if you’re a shift worker – especially on those tight turnaround shifts when sleep is at a premium!

It’s why implementing strategies to help you to relax prior to getting into bed, is absolutely key in helping you to fall asleep.

Audra x

HSW 64 – Low Carb and High Fat with Sports Nutritionist Steph Lowe

In today’s episode of The Healthy Shift Worker podcast we’re joined by Steph Lowe who is a Sports Nutritionist, triathlete, author and founder of The Natural Nutritionist – a hub for celebrating the importance of real food.

Steph talks to us about the importance of eating more real food – otherwise known as JERF, which encompasses more of a low carbohydrate, high fat (LCHF) style of eating and it’s associated health benefits including balancing blood sugar.

Given blood sugar dysregulation is common in those who are sleep deprived, adopting more of this “real food” approach can be key for anyone working 24/7 as it can help to mitigate some of the poor health outcomes associated with consuming high amounts of  processed sugars and carbohydrates – which let’s face it, forms a significant part of many shift worker’s diet!

In this episode you’re also going to learn why counting calories and following a low fat diet is not ideal, and how it can contribute in the decline of our mental and physical wellbeing.

Links mentioned in the podcast:

Steph’s website – The Natural Nutritionist

The Natural Nutritionist Instagram

Steph’s Build Your Plate Guideline

Do You Really Understand The Consequences of Poor Sleep?

Yesterday I was talking to a potential client, who was bit unsure and hesitant about working with me, so I decided to ask her a few questions regarding her current lifestyle habits.

Because let’s face it, our diet and lifestyle habits are often one of the firsts thing to turn pear- shaped when we begin working 24/7!

But I also I asked her this question:

“Do you really understand some of the consequences of poor sleep?  Like really understand some of the consequences?”

Like many shift workers – she didn’t.

I mean she’d certainly heard about them, but had chosen to either ignore them or had gone into “oh, that won’t happen to me mode” – like so many people who work 24/7 do.

So let’s share some of the consequences of poor and/or insufficient sleep – and how it raises your risk of developing certain health conditions:

  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Weight Gain
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cognitive Decline
  • Depleted Immune system
  • Strained Relationships … to name a few!

Not to mention, we’re more likely to become reliant on sleep medications – many of which are not designed for long term use, and can come with some nasty side-effects.

Worse still, when we haven’t had sufficient quality sleep – we’re prone to making mistakes and/or being involved in an accident when we’re tired.

Multiple studies have shown that even moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments equivalent to those of alcohol intoxication.   After 17 to 19 hours without sleep, performance is equivalent or worse than that of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.05 percent.  This effectively makes you a drunk driver – without having a single drop of alcohol.

So please keep this in mind the next time you decide to sign up for a double shift!

Quite simply, there isn’t one area of your life that IS NOT affected by lack of sleep.

Now if you’ve been following my work for a while, you know that your health is important to me.  Gosh, I even walked away from a career that I loved, in order to go back to “school” and learn all that I could about shift work health, so that I could then go on, and help as many people as I could.

Right now, I’m looking for a handful of people who are committed to taking care of their sleep (and health), and are prepared to do whatever it takes NOT TO become one of the “sleep deprived statistics” that I’ve shared above.

On the other hand, if you don’t care about raising your risks of developing cardiovascular disease, gaining weight, developing Type 2 Diabetes and/or having a depleted immune system – at least do it for the sake of your relationships and/or family.  I’m sure they don’t want you to become one of those statistics – even if you don’t!

And now for the good news.

I’ve just opened up limited spots for the beta launch of my ‘7 Day Better Sleep Kickstart Program’ to take people through a step-by-step process to improve their sleep – despite working 24/7.

So if you care about your health, then let’s talk.

Book your Better Sleep Strategy session with me today (it’s Free!) by Clicking Right Here – and let’s get your sleep (and health) sorted once and for all!

Audra x

P.S:  If you don’t believe me when I say that sleep affects us in this way, feel free to read the research article below as it goes into great detail of some of the short-term and long-term health consequences of poor sleep.  The reality is, we can no longer afford to ignore the importance of sleep, and how it affects our overall health and wellbeing.  If we do, it’s only a matter of time before our health begins to suffer.

 

Reference:

Medic, G, Wille, M & Hemels, M 2017, ‘Short and long-term health consequences  of sleep disruption’, Nature and Science of Sleep, vol. 9, pp. 151-161.

Simple French Onion Soup:

A great nourishing snack for night shift.

What’s great about it?

  • Onions are a great source of chromium, which is a trace mineral that helps to stabilise blood sugar by assisting the body to use insulin more effectively.
  • Studies have shown chromium can help to reduce insulin resistance, a condition common in those who experience ongoing sleep deprivation.
  • Soups are a great form of “liquid nutrition” to have during the night as they provide little burden on the digestive tract, thereby reducing the incidence of ‘night shift nausea’ and gut discomfort.
  • Soups are also a great warming and nourishing snack to have whilst on night shift, particularly around  2-4am when experiencing sudden drops in body temperature.

Ingredients

  • 8 brown onions
  • 30g butter
  • 1 table spoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 2 cups filtered water

How to make it!

Place the onions, butter, oil and thyme in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Cover and cook for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden.

Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes.

Add the mustard, stock and water and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.  Ladle the soup into bowls, and place the remainder into small containers that can be frozen, and taken into work at a later date.  Batch cooking at it’s best!

Note:  Spelt is a variety of wheat so does contain gluten, however is an ancient whole grain that contains  fewer of the hard-to-digest carbohydrates called fructans.

 

References:

Heshmati, J, Omani-Samani, R, Vesali, S, Maroufizadeh, S, Rezaeinejad, M, Razavi, M & Sepidarkish, M 2018, ‘The effects of supplementation with chromium on insulin resistance indices in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome:  A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials’, Hormone and Metabolic Research, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 193-200.

Jafarpour-Sadegh, F, Montazeri, V, Adili, A, Esfehani, A, Rashidi, M & Pirouzpanah, S 2017, ‘Consumption of fresh yellow onion ameliorates hyperglycemia and insulin resistance in breast cancer patients during doxorubicin-based chemotherapy:  A randomized controlled clinical trial’, Integrative Cancer Therapies, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 276-289.

HSW 51 – Sympathetic Dominance with Dr Wayne Todd.

Healthy Shift Worker Podcast:

Over the past 2 years or so of recording podcast episodes, I’ve occasionally mentioned the words ‘sympathetic dominance’, as it’s a condition that I quite often see in many of my patients who work 24/7, in particular those who struggle to get good quality sleep.

Otherwise known as the ‘fight or flight’ arm of our autonomic nervous system, sympathetic dominance is when our bodies become ‘stuck’ in this fight or flight stress response for long durations at a time.

Unfortunately for shift workers, ongoing sleep deprivation actually makes us quite prone to this overactive stimulation of our nervous system which can lead to a whole host of chronic health complaints from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and weight gain, along with the suppression of our reproductive and immune system.  In addition, it becomes a bit of a Catch-22, in that sympathetic dominance actually switches off our parasympathetic nervous system, which plays a fundamentally important role in our ability to rest and sleep.

To discuss this topic in greater detail, I’ve brought in Dr Wayne Todd who is a chiropractor based in Sale, Victoria, who has written an entire book on sympathetic dominance titled ‘SD Protocol – Achieve greater health by learning to balance your physical, chemical and emotional wellbeing‘.

Tune in to hear Dr Todd go into some of the physical, chemical and emotional causes behind sympathetic dominance, and what we can do as shift workers to help dampen down this stress response.  This will in turn, have a positive flow on effect of reducing some of our risks of developing these chronic health conditions, along with improving the quality of our sleep.

Links mentioned in the podcast:

http://www.sdprotocol.com.au