Are you looking at your health as if through a set of binoculars?
Are you relying on one area of medicine to keep you healthy?
Achieving optimal health doesn’t occur when we focus on one thing.
It’s a bit like driving a car with the handbrake on as we’re unable to see the bigger picture. The blind spots that play a pivotal role in our long term health and well-being.
This is because health encompasses a myriad of facets including sleep, movement, nutrition, sunlight, connection, hydration, breath work etc.
It’s why it’s good to see a variety of health care practitioners who are trained across various modalities, along with seeking out different opinions.
The best part is that your body will begin to thrive when you make adjustments across all areas of your health – as opposed to just one.
P.S: Needing help embracing more of a holistic take on your health whilst working 24/7? Check out the 21-Day Healthy Shift Worker Kickstart Program by Clicking Here.
There is a myriad of drugs that can affect our sleep, some of which include beta-blockers (prescribed for high blood pressure), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRI’s (a type of antidepressant) and, ironically, even some which are designed to enhance sleep quality such as benzodiazepines.
Given shift workers endure bouts of restricted and fragmented sleep depending on their shift rotations, minimizing exposure to anything which can further exacerbate poor sleep needs to be a priority.
I would recommend writing down every drug and supplement that you are taking and asking your health care practitioner if any could be interfering with your sleep.
Then look at reverse-engineering things by asking if any lifestyle modification strategies could be implemented to address some of the reasons why you’re taking the medications.
Are you eating food made out a laboratory … AKA lots of ultra-processed, refined and sugar-laden foods, or more whole, real foods designed by Mother Nature?
Because apart from the fact the body struggles to break down and digest these types of “foods”, according to a French study published in JAMA (2019), for every 10% portion of our diet that’s made up of processed foods, our risk of developing diabetes jumps up another 15% right along with it.
Now this might not sound earth-shattering, but if you are a shift worker, this percentage rises even more as sleep deprivation, alone, disrupts the regulation of blood sugar levels.
This is because if you’re awake when you’re not meant to be (AKA the life of EVERY shift worker on the planet!), it leads to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which raises blood sugar levels.
The body does this because when you’re sleep deprived, it senses that your life is in danger.
Do you tend to eat the same type of meals over and over again? Maybe you’ve got a close relationship going on with your breakfast cereal?!!
Well I’d like to inspire you to live on the edge a little … and add some colour and variety to your plate (or bowl!)
When we eat a more diversified diet, particularly one that is rich in plant-based foods, it helps to feed the trillions of microscopic bugs in the digestive tract.
Now these microscopic bugs (which comprise of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses – yes you read that correctly, even viruses), they don’t just hang out in your belly, doing nothing.
They are responsible for producing important neurotransmitters such as gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, for short. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which helps to calm the nervous system, needed to facilitate sleep.
They also produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter which is the pre-cursor to the sleep-regulating hormone, melatonin.
I was speaking at a conference on the weekend, and I asked the attendees the following question:
“Do you have a lollie jar stashed in a drawer at work? There were quite a few nods in the room, and one guy even said they have a Lollie Locker!
Whooska. Well, at least he was honest.
The thing is, they’re pretty much in every shift working workplace on the planet.
Incredibly, (but not surprisingly), they line the drawers of most hospital wards … but don’t get me started about the food in the hospitals. I’m going to save that for an entirely different email!!
Anyway, I digress.
Getting back to the lollie jar. Does your workplace also have those “fundraising choccies” that make several appearances throughout the year??
It’s for a good cause, right?
Well … yes, I’m not going to disagree with that, but at what cost to those who are consuming these sugar-laden treats?
You see, when we’re constantly sleep-deprived our bodies are essentially in a state of ‘fight or flight’ which leads us to crave sugar.