Do You Struggle With Broken Sleep? Why Your Diet May Be To Blame.

Ditching the processed foods not only help us to feel better (and shake off a few extra kilos!), but it also helps us to sleep better.

This is because most processed foods are:

  • Low in dietary fibre required to support optimal gut health. Poor gut health impacts the production of certain hormones and inhibitory neurotransmitters such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glycine, which help to calm the nervous system and encourage better sleep. Lack of GABA also contributes to anxiety in a lot of people, which can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • High in refined sugars which feed pathogenic bacteria leading to an imbalance of gut microbes, otherwise known as dysbiosis. For example, when there is an overgrowth of a yeast infection such as Candida, it causes inflammation in the gut. This in turn triggers production of cortisol – a stress hormone that also acts as an anti-inflammatory. When cortisol levels are elevated, it can contribute to insomnia because it dampens down production of the sleep-regulating hormone, melatonin.
  • Deficient in nutrients that play a role in sleep such as vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, folate, magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium – all of which help to facilitate the many biochemical processes required to produce melatonin. For example, magnesium, calcium and vitamin B5 act as co-factors in the conversion of serotonin to melatonin.

So if you’re struggling with continual bouts of broken sleep (on top of working shift work), it might be time to take a good look at your diet. Because gut disturbances and nutrient deficiencies as a result of consuming foods that are highly refined and processed may be further contributing to your sleep disturbance – in addition to the shift work itself.

Audra x


References:

Ji, X, Grandner, M & Liu, J 2017, ‘The relationship between micronutrient status and sleep patterns: a systematic review’, Public Health Nutrition, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 687-701.

Li, Y, Hao, Y, Fan, F & Zhang, B 2018, ‘The role of microbiome in insomnia, circadian disturbance and depression’, Frontiers in Psychiatry, vol.9, no. 669, pp. 1-11.

Smith, R, Easson, C, Lyle, S, Kapoor, R, Donnelly, C, Davidson, E, Parikh, E, Lopez, J & Tartar, J 2019, Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans’, PLOS One, vol. 14, no. 10, pp. 1-17.

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

Lack of Sleep and Inflammation – Why You Need To Know About It.

Do you often find yourself bragging about your lack of sleep? Perhaps you’ve overheard a work colleague gloating about their ability to run on 4-5 hours of sleep?

I know this sounds crazy, but I know plenty of people who do – even when working 24/7.

The thing is, its actually not a joking matter.

This is serious stuff.

There are MANY REASONS why sleep is critically important on our health, but one of the most poignant is that lack of sleep can obliterate your immune system – the very system that is designed to keep you well.

It’s also bi-directional, meaning an overactive immune system can lead to poor sleep.

It’s why I want to discuss an area of your immune system called inflammation, and the connection it has with lack of sleep.

So first up – you may be wondering, what exactly is inflammation?

(more…)

Sleep Loss and Glucose Regulation.

This is why shift work and a diet high in refined and processed sugars is not a good mix.

Results published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism identified how just one night of sleep deprivation caused a 40% reduction in the body’s ability to handle glucose.

What does this mean?

Quite simply, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body struggles to keep your blood sugar in check

Given consistently elevated blood sugar can damage blood vessels and contribute to cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes … shift workers need to know this stuff!!

Unfortunately it becomes a bit of a Catch-22.

When we’re sleep deprived, our body screams out for sugar, because the brain is seeking out a source of energy to help it to function and remain alert.

But too much sugar – AKA donuts, cakes, biscuits, energy drinks etc, (in lieu of sufficient amounts of protein, healthy fats and fibre), can lead to blood sugar dysregulation and inflammation.

So please be mindful of your sugar intake whilst working 24/7 – not just from a weight gain perspective, but to help reduce your risk factors for developing other chronic health conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease.

Audra x

HSW 92 – Live Event in Brisbane!

Are you a shift worker living in Brisbane or know someone who is?  If so, this podcast is for you!

In conjunction with the launch of my new book Too Tired To Cook’, I’m super excited to announce my first ever Healthy Shift Worker Live Event in Brisbane, which is open to the general public!

What does this mean?

It means that ANYONE who works shift work in Brisbane can attend.

So if you work in healthcare (nurse, doctor, veterinary medicine), transport & logistics (train driver, aviation worker, ship crew, truck driver), manufacturing, hospitality (hotel, casino or cafe worker), emergency services (police, fire, ambulance), security – or any other occupation that I’ve missed … and you’ve been struggling with this whole shift working lifestyle – then this event is for YOU.

Titled “Better Sleep & Nutrition for Shift Workers”, this event is a version of the Healthy Shift Worker Seminars that I’ve been delivering to shift working organisations all over Australia.

WHEN – Friday the 29th November 2019, from 7:30-9 pm.

WHERE – Toombul Shire Hall, Brisbane QLD

I’ve lost count of the number of times people have come up to me after a seminar and said “Audra, where were you when I needed you 20 years ago?!”

So if you (or members of your workplace) are wanting to gain invaluable tools and strategies to improve your sleep and nutrition whilst working 24/7, (amongst a whole host of other things like weight loss, stress relief etc) – then tune into this episode to learn more about the event.

To book your tickets CLICK HERE and I look forward to seeing you there!