We all know how important sleep is for health....or do we?
In this article, Clinical Nutritionist and toxicologist Kirsten Beynon explores the importance of getting a good night's sleep.
Kirsten Beynon MSc, DipNut
We all know what it feels like to not have enough sleep for one night – cranky, unfocussed, sleepy, forgetful, accident-prone, poor physical performance and reaching for snacks that maybe aren’t our usual choices. It makes for a hard day, especially if you have to parent, work, learn, maintain relationships, drive, think or do anything that isn’t snoozing on the sofa being brought cups of tea.
When I was studying my Masters, the campus had a sleep research centre. We, as MSc students, were strongly discouraged from taking part in sleep studies, under threat of expulsion. The school recognized that sleep deprivation studies were not conducive to academic success (or keeping heads above water!). We occasionally heard tales of participants in sleep studies who were picked up by police for exhibiting strange behaviour and detained or ‘sectioned’ under the Mental Health Act until they had recovered.
Chronic poor sleep is a significant health burden. We’re talking about the big stuff – cancer, diabetes, poor immune health, increased risk of car accidents, weight gain, increased risk of heart disease and stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and other psychiatric disorders, fertility problems and overall poorer quality of life. (1)
How big is the 'sleep problem'?
It’s big, I mean REALLY big.
I would go as far as to say that almost everyone will struggle with sleep at some point in their life.
The NHS and National Sleep Foundation put sleep disorder occurrence at around 1 in 3 people. (2,3) This is ‘diagnosed’ disorders and doesn’t capture people who sleep poorly but don’t seek a diagnosis. Matthew Walker suggests that it is likely to be 2 in 3 people who sleep inadequately. (4)
That is 66% of us who are going around functioning in a sub-optimal way, either in the short, medium or long term. This is a MASSIVE issue to health, productivity and overall happiness.
What is sleep anyway?
I’ll defer to Matthew Walker here – ‘Sleep is not the absence of wakefulness. It is far more than that. Our night time sleep is an exquisitely complex, metabolically active, and deliberately ordered series of unique stages’. (5) There are different stages of sleep that we cycle through, each responsible for different ‘jobs’. Light NREM sleep, deep NREM sleep and REM sleep all have different functions. Disturbance of sleep disrupts the sequence and flow from one type to the next and reduces the effectiveness.
I’m not going to go into detail – just understand that every night’s sleep is a journey, and every disruption prevents you from getting to your well-rested destination.
Can't I just take a sleeping pill?
I mean, you can, but it won’t help you to have a natural and restorative sleep. It isn’t sleep – it’s sedation. The stages of natural sleep that do all the work are inhibited and that impairs brain repair and cleansing.
Sedatives often leave people feeling ‘hungover’ the following day, can be addictive and often become less effective over time.
Removal of sedative medications should be done under the care of a doctor. Don’t just stop taking them!!
Supporting the natural processes of sleep is a healthier way forward.
How do I support restorative sleep?
There is no single magic answer – sorry.
Much of our sleeping problem epidemic is a result of our modern lives. Stress, exercise, electric light, technology, how we work (shifts are a disaster!!), nutrition, how we breathe, how we socialize, alcohol, medications, narcotics, travel across time zones and other factors all have the ability to reduce our sleeping capacity.
A few changes might make all the difference, though.
‘Sleep hygiene’ is a term used to describe activities that help us to achieve good quality sleep. (6) There are lots of ideas about how we can do this, and some work better for some people than others.
Make time to wind down. Give yourself that gift.
Pick 2 or 3 and see how you get on. Then add in another 1 or 2. And another. And so on.
1. Sleep hygiene starts first thing in the morning
3. Regular bedtimes go alongside regular wake up times. Make time for at least 7 hours of sleep as an adult. (7)
4. Cool your bedroom down. A drop in body temperature helps to signal that it’s time to sleep. A bath can help with this, too.
5. Turn down the lights – electric lights (especially LED ones) and backlit devices disrupt sleep patterns. Turn down the intensity at sunset (blue light blocking glasses, F.lux, sunset modes on devices etc. are all useful, but it is best to just turn them off). Think dimmer switches, candles, romance, fairy lights, incandescent instead of LED light bulbs. (7)
6. Keep your bedroom relaxing and set up for sleeping (and sex). Nothing else though. Maybe a paperback, but nothing too gripping. (7)
7. Reduce stimulating reading or TV materials. Keep it gentle.
8. Reduce or eliminate alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, narcotics. These all have the potential to interfere with sleep. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and directly reduce your sleep capacity. Alcohol interferes with sleep quality. Avoid these in large quantities or close to bedtime. Maybe no caffeine after noon. (7)
9. Don’t eat too close to bedtime. 2-3 hours before bed is ideal.
10. Exercise. Moving your body enhances sleep quality and quantity. Some people find that vigorous exercise too late interferes with sleep, so experiment – see what works for you. (7)
11. Praxctice yoga, breathing and meditation. There are countless guided sessions out in the world, all designed around helping with sleep. Have a look and see what works for you.
12. Take magnesium. Magnesium is generally lacking in our diets, and it has the important job of calming our nervous system. Using magnesium before bed can be very helpful. (8) You can take it as a supplement or apply it topically as a cream or oil.
13. Improve your diet overall. Any diet that leads to blood glucose drops in the night is going to interfere with sleep. An evening meal that is based on vegetables, good quality protein and healthy fats will help.
14. Watch fluid intake before bed. If you find yourself waking up for the bathroom in the night, then maybe restrict fluid intake over a couple of hours before bed. But only if you are well hydrated during the day. If you are a gentleman of a certain age and find yourself getting up frequently, then maybe have a chat with your GP.
15. Manage your stress. Again, there are lots of resources out there that can help. Taking 5 deep slow belly breaths through your nose is a great start. Meditation, yin yoga, healthy social connection, gardening, counselling. Whatever floats your boat. Work on that stress resilience.
16. If you find yourself awake in the night, try not to get frustrated. It’s going to be ok. It is ok. ‘Lying down rest’ that isn’t sleeping still has value. Practising breathing exercises or meditation can be really helpful here. You might find you’ve nodded off.
17. Try herbal sleep aids. Reishi mushrooms, passiflora, valerian, sleep drops, hops (not made into beer!), lavender essential oil, tart cherry, chamomile and many more. (9)
18. Try cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia. (10)
Kirsten Beynon is a registered clinical nutritionist. She has a Master’s degree in science (toxicology) and a diploma in nutrition. Kirsten specializes in environmental and nutritional medicine with a focus on challenging cases.
To find out more, head to: https://kirstenbeynon.co.nz/
Mike has spent most of his life working out what makes people tick and figuring out what they want and why. He co-founded leading advertising agencies; Colenso BBDO and Hutcheson Knowles Marinkovich, and culminated his advertising career in Auckland as Managing Director of Saatchi and Saatchi.
Mike has written four books, and has been a regular television guest and commentator. He writes an Innovation column for Idealog magazine, one of his company’s portfolio. In 2012 he was named Business Columnist of the Year in the Magazine Publisher’s Awards. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and has a Master of Philosophy degree (with 1st Class Honours) his thesis was on the alchemy of innovation in New Zealand business. He has recently been appointed an Adjunct Professor at Auckland University of Technology.
We are lucky enough to have Mike speaking at HPN 2018 and so we interviewed him so you could get a bit of insight into why Mike does what he does.
What is your professional background?
I co-founded advertising agencies; Colenso BBDO and Hutcheson Knowles Marinkovich, and culminated my advertising career in Auckland as Managing Director of Saatchi and Saatchi.
I was also a director of a family building company and in the early 80’s set up Replica Homes, with franchises throughout New Zealand
In 2003 I launched The Lighthouse Ideas Company and in 2008 I helped undertake a management buyout of Image Centre Group; multi-channel communications company, with interests in digital and offset printing, publishing, video-production, retail advertising and web development. I also set up Scarborough Fair, a Fair Trade organic coffee and tea marketing company, planted Lonely Cow vineyard on Waiheke, and have interests in a wine distribution company operating through Nashville, Tennessee.
I have written four books, and has been a regular television guest and commentator. I write an occasional Innovation column for Idealog magazine. In 2012 I was named Business Columnist of the Year in the Magazine Publisher’s Awards. I am an Adjunct Professor at Auckland University of Technology and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I have a Master of Philosophy degree (with 1st Class Honours) my thesis was on the alchemy of innovation in New Zealand business.
What drives you to do the work that you do?
How would you describe your philosophy about ‘healthy’?
Loose and flexible.
Picture this, you’re living your most perfect day- what does this look like?
On a boat, fishing.
Now, what’s your actual typical day look like?
In an office, working.
What’s your typical meal for….
First thing upon waking:
Get up and go to the gym
Protein smoothie and poached eggs
Sushi or sandwich
Lamb chops, spuds and peas
Snacks or sweets:
What’s one of the biggest health misconceptions in your opinion?
That a normal balanced diet is unhealthy.
What things do you do to keep up to date with your profession?
I read every relevant blog and article I can.
Post by Emily White
Do you stick to your diet to a tee during the week, only to find yourself blowing out on the weekends? Despite your best intentions, you get home on a Friday evening, tired and hungry, and start reaching for the foods that you have been avoiding all week? Do the Friday night indulgences then set you up for a weekend of over consuming food and alcohol leaving you disappointed and annoyed come Monday morning?
This weekend overeating habit is all too common with one study showing that majority of individuals will lose weight during the week and gain in the weekends which leads to a viscous ‘yo-yo’ diet cycle.
If overeating on the weekends has been sabotaging your progress there are a few changes you can make to prevent this.
Julia Rucklidge is a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Canterbury. She has published many peer reviewed scholarly articles on nutrition as it relates to psychiatric symptom reduction. For more than a decade, Dr. Rucklidge has played a key role in forefront nutrition-mental health research, including extensive research using micronutrients.
We interviewed her so you could get a bit of insight into why Julia does what she does.
Dr Lara Briden is a naturopathic doctor and the period revolutionary—leading the change to better periods.
She first worked as a researcher and evolutionary biologist at the University of Calgary. She then went on to graduate as a naturopathic doctor from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM).
Her mission is to empower women to have easy, symptomless periods and join the worldwide "period revolution."
We interviewed her so that you can get some insight into what she does.
Sol Orwell is an entrepreneur and business developer, most known for his work as the co-founder of Examine.com. He was recognised as a 2014 Game Changer by Men’s Fitness and profiled by Forbes as a seven-figure entrepreneur. Most people "teaching" entrepreneurship are unqualified - a mixture of little success and little experience. Sol? He has lived it. 15+ years, 6 companies, over 8 figures generated.
We interviewed Sol so you can get a bit of insight into why he does what he does.
Post by Emily White
As the mornings get colder in New Zealand and winter looms on the horizon, many of us are booking warm holidays to escape the grips of the Southern Hemisphere winter. However with long-haul travel comes the inevitable dreaded jet lag. When we travel to a new time zone, our circadian rhythms are slow to adjust and remain on their original biological schedule for several days. Some individuals try taking over-the-counter or prescription pills to improve symptoms while others rely on coffee and adrenaline to get them through. Emerging research has discovered a game changing strategy to fight jet lag: fasting before and during the flight.
By Cliff Harvey
What does this have to do with nutrition?
Nada, nothing, not a bean.
BUT - I do know a little about training. Along with being a qualified trainer and having previously worked as a strength-coach for over a decade, I also won a few All-Round Weightlifting World Champs and set a few world strength records back in the day...
Nowadays I don't have the time to do much strength coaching at all, and hell, even my own training can suffer due to demands of writing, researching, speaking, and eating cookies with milk...
This program is a 'go to' for me. I hate (strong word I know) complicated, long training programs. Whenever I start adding too much to a plan, I lose interest, and find myself heading back to simplified, reduced volume plans. Sometimes I'd feel a bit guilty for that but at our recent HPN Conference our buddy 'The Glute Guy' Bret Contreras PhD gave a great keynote presentation on training program design, and one of the key 'take home' messages for me, was, do what you dig doing!
So, what's the 3-5 plan?
Read the full post here at Patreon
Kirsten Beynon is a registered clinical nutritionist and health science geek who is passionate about helping people find and maintain their best possible health through sustainable diet and lifestyle changes.
She has many years of experience in the medical field, and has a broad and deep knowledge of medications and complex medical conditions that she can apply to my practice of nutrition.
Kirsten holds a BSc (Honours) in Biomedical Sciences, a Masters degree in Toxicology and a Diploma in Nutrition. These complement each other to provide great background knowledge of health and nutrition along with strong research and problem solving skills.
We interviewed Kirsten so you can get a bit of insight into why she does what she does.
By Cliff Harvey
A quick search for “Are Protein Isolates Dangerous” on the interwebs provides a lot of links that suggest a whole host of risks from taking a protein isolate. But how valid are these claims?
TL:DR - NO. Don't be scared of protein isolates homie!
Some of the more common 'risks' are....
Read the full article here at patreon
The impact on health in jockeys due to demanding weight requirements in horse racing and nutritional strategies to help minimise the damage
Post by Lee-Anne Wann
You have finally caught up to speed with adding protein powders to your smoothies or coconut oil to your coffee and now collagen supplements? Here’s why this this latest trend is one that can offer you some serious health benefits.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a protein found in muscles, bones, skin and tendons (just to name a few!). It is responsible for giving us that ‘skin elasticity’ that we all desire and is thought to be the ‘glue’ that holds us together. I think it’s safe to say it is pretty important.
Unfortunately, collagen production naturally begins to slow down as we age. This is a natural process that just goes hand in hand with the natural aging process, and is responsible for signs of aging such as wrinkles or joint pains. Diets high in sugar, sun exposure and smoking are all factors that can also deplete collagen levels prematurely.
So now that I have you all perked up and listening at the sound of ‘wrinkle reduction’, what are the benefits of supplementing with collagen?
It is good for your skin
So we have established collagen is incredibly important for skin elasticity and lifestyle factors and aging can deplete levels in the body. Therefore, it is thought that adding collagen into our diet may be essential in achieving that youthful glow.
One study found that supplementing collagen daily for 8 weeks showed significant improvement in skin elasticity, skin moisture and skin roughness. Just what we need with these harsh winter months!
It is good for joint health
Whether you are a bit stiff from your weekly workouts or just feeling your age when you creak out of bed in the mornings, collagen has been shown to improve joint health. Collagen helps your joints to move easier which can reduce pain and help prolong the longevity of your joints.
It can increase muscle mass
Collagen supplements are high in protein (obviously) and therefore can be a great alternative or addition to protein powder. One study found that supplementing with collagen showed higher levels of fat-free mass after a 12 week training program then those that didn’t supplement. Therefore it can be a great option to get more protein into your diet and support muscle gain.
C n’t I just get it from my diet?
The short answer, yes. With all supplement protocols, food comes first. In animal products the skin, cartilage, shanks, feet, necks, oxtails and ribs are all parts of the animal that are rich in collagen so aim to mix up your meat intake from the standard chicken breast or eye fillet. Bone broth is also a great source.
While, there are ways to get it from food, for many people it is simply not realistic to do so. Many people simply don’t like the idea of the less conventional cuts of meat all the time or don’t want to spend hours slaving over a pot making broths. While in a perfect world, we would all do this, it isn’t realistic for some people, which is where supplementing can really come in handy.
We get our collagen here.
Blueberry Cashew Collagen Smoothie Recipe
This is pretty darn cool. I really dig the work of Brad Dieter PhD over at sciencedrivennutrition.com and so, I was honoured that he asked me to write this article after a brief discussion on Facebook about the merits of insulin status as a predictor of carb-tolerance.
Read the full article here
Post by Emily White
You have heard it time and time again; if you are trying to lose fat and boost your metabolism eating small meals 6 times a day and always having snacks on hand is far superior over the traditional 3 meals a day. Personally I have always stuck to the 3 meals a day- not because I thought weight-wise one was superior over the other but because the thought of having to think of and prepare 6 meals every single day just makes me want to take a nap. So apart from being increasingly inconvenient are there any benefits to eating more frequently throughout the day?
Post by Cliff Harvey
...and before you start accusing me of being 'a Paleo guy'. I'm not. I'm a freakin' spaceman, not a caveman... BUT...Humans have eaten very high-carbohydrate foods (especially high intakes of grains) for only a short time in their overall development. For many thousands of years’ humans survived as hunter-gatherers, eating predominantly meats, eggs, fish, birds, leaves, nuts, seeds, and smaller amounts of grains and legumes.
It's only in the past several thousand (an evolutionary ‘blink of the eye’) that we have shifted to a food environment in which grains dominate our food supply. It is even more recently that we began to eat the vast quantity of highly processed and refined food that make up the bulk of the modern diet.
Read the full article at Patreon
Post by Cliff Harvey
Most people think of ketogenic diets when they think ‘low carb’. Ketogenic diets are low enough in carbohydrate (and protein), and high enough in fat, to encourage the creation of ketone bodies. This creation of ketones resulting from diet is called ‘Nutritional Ketosis’.
Ketogenic diets have a range of applications, from rapid fat-loss, to improved fat use for fuel, and application for many health conditions but some people just don’t benefit from ketogenic diets and it’s likely that your genes determine to a large degree which type of lower-carb diet you should follow. Through trial and error, or by following the tips in The Carbohydrate Appropriate Diet, or Keto-Appropriate Diet Manifesto you can find your best diet.
Your diet should be the most satisfying and comforting that it can possibly be while also allowing you to achieve your physical and mental goals.
There is a place for high protein, low carb diets.
Read the full article at Patreon
1. Drink more water
Optimal hydration is key to staying on track. Without enough water we are unable to perform at our physical and mental best, and we may feel hungrier- the last thing you need when Christmas mince pies and ham are in easy reach!!
The human body turns over about 100ml an hour so we need at least two litres per day to remain hydrated.
2.Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in the morning
Both Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and lemon juice are time honoured naturopathic remedies to promote digestion and detoxification. They are also highly alkaline promoting in the body. Perfect for times when you may be over indulging!
Article by Emily White
Snacking is something of great debate. Some say you should snack morning and afternoon to keep your blood sugar levels stable and cravings at bay, whilst others say you should ensure you are getting enough food and nutrients at your main meals that you don’t require snacks between meals. Which one is the correct?
By Amy Lynn, BNatMed
In 2012, physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide (1). It is pandemic and a strong causative factor of the major non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes. In children and adolescents, sedentary behavior and obesity were strongly correlated. In adults, sedentary behavior were strongly correlated with all-cause mortality, fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome (2). Among older adults, sedentary behavior is a strong element influencing the health of ageing adults and is being considered as a significant fall risk factor, such as drugs (3). Clearly, physical inactivity is one of the top four pillars of a noncommunicable disease strategy (1).
Post by Emily White
So you are sitting across from your friend at a cafe, glaring longingly at their BLT with fries whilst you reluctantly dig into your salmon salad. To make matters worse they are a stick insect while it feels you just need to smell a potato before the weight piles on. Sound familiar? Researchers are now suggesting that our genetic make up could actually play a role in this unfair travesty.
By HPN intern Amy Lynn
Teenage years are the period of life with the fastest rate of body growth. This is also the period of sexual maturation, which is accompanied by significant physiological changes. As a result, nutritional requirements of teenagers tend to be significantly different from those of adults (1). Due to accelerated growth, the teenage body yearns for elevated nutrition, although it’s the last thought a teen wishes to engage in. Unfortunately, today, we are seeing higher nutritional deficiencies in teens due to an over active, hyper driven society. Several health conditions such as loss of height, osteoporosis, and even delayed sexual maturation may present themselves in these delicate growing years (2). In addition, the increasing decision to undertake vegan or vegetarian based diets are increasing amongst teens, which then gives nutritional deficiencies another level of disconcertment, especially within the athletic group.
Article by HPN graduate Tammy Hume
Giving a bubba the best start to life is one of the best gifts that we can give our children.
Every parent wants their child to be as healthy as possible. But despite that, most of us simply just give little thought towards improving our health before conceiving a child. We often simply expect that regardless of how we have treated our bodies in the past that they will conceive a child with ease, grow and birth a healthy baby, which will in turn lead to a healthy child.
Post by Emily White
You see it all the time; people buy a plastic water bottle from the supermarket and reuse it for weeks on end. After all, it is ridiculous (both environmentally and economically) to buy a plastic water bottle, only to throw them out after one use. But how safe is it to reuse these bottles?
Article by Emily White
Meat and disease. Two things that are so often grouped together in the media. On the one hand, you have people touting that this is ridiculous, whilst others have embraced a vegetarian diet, never looking back.
So, the question remains, is meat a cause of disease?
Post by Emily White
Many people are of the belief that if you want to lose weight you simply need to cut your calories and increase your exercise (there needs to be more calories going out than coming in). Simple as that, you lose the weight you need and all is well. These people believe that this is the ONLY thing that matters.
Before we delve into this topic, it is worth addressing that the ‘calories in, calories out’ argument is incredibly important. It’s true, you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, but that is an incredibly black and white way to look at it and does not address the enormous big picture that is at play when it comes to weight loss.