All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast

Eat, Sleep, and Serve How To Balance Shift Work with Roger Sutherland

January 21, 2024 Travis McGaha / Eric Stephenson Season 2 Episode 4
Eat, Sleep, and Serve How To Balance Shift Work with Roger Sutherland
All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast
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All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast
Eat, Sleep, and Serve How To Balance Shift Work with Roger Sutherland
Jan 21, 2024 Season 2 Episode 4
Travis McGaha / Eric Stephenson

Unlock the secrets to thriving on shift work with Roger Sutherland, the seasoned law enforcement veteran turned nutritionist from A Healthy Shift. He joins me to shed light on the unique health challenges faced by first responders and offers evidence-based strategies to navigate them. Roger's transition from the demands of the first responder life to the discipline of nutrition science equips him with both the firsthand experience and the professional acumen to guide shift workers through the complexities of managing wellness around the clock.

Our conversation takes a deep dive into the significance of listening to our bodies, understanding the natural ebb and flow of hunger, and the role of chrono nutrition in synchronizing meal times with our internal clocks. The nuanced discussion around intuitive eating provides listeners with the tools to escape the dieting merry-go-round and adopt sustainable, healthful eating habits. Roger and I tackle the often-neglected topic of late-night cravings and the importance of fasting overnight, offering practical tips that promise to realign your body's rhythm no matter your work hours.

Caffeine and light – they're not just parts of our daily routine, they're pivotal players in the quality of our sleep and mental health, especially for those in the line of duty during unconventional hours. Roger shares an eye-opening account of a firefighter's struggle with energy drinks, leading us to scrutinize our own caffeine consumption and its far-reaching effects on rest. We wrap up with actionable advice on optimizing exposure to natural light to master our circadian rhythms, ensuring first responders, and shift workers alike, can safeguard their mental well-being amidst the chaos of non-traditional work schedules. Join us for this insightful episode as we equip you with the knowledge to take control of your health against the clock.


BIO:

 Roger Sutherland veteran 24/7 shift worker working in front line law enforcement in Australia.  Certified Nutritionist and One 2 One shift work coach.    Body Image and Disordered eating certified and well read in women’s health.   Currently studying Chrononutrition and Chronobiology to best assist shift workers with evidence based strategies around their 24/7 shift working lifestyle.Roger coaches shift workers One 2 One to Thrive, not just Survive while coping with the rigors of 24/7 shift work.

I currently have One2One coaching positions open for 2024 but they don't last long.
Website: ahealthyshift.com

Instagram: @a_healthy_shift

Facebook: AHealthyShiftLinkedIn: Roger Sutherland

Download my Free “The Circadian Fast” e-bookLearn what to eat and when while navigating the night shift



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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Unlock the secrets to thriving on shift work with Roger Sutherland, the seasoned law enforcement veteran turned nutritionist from A Healthy Shift. He joins me to shed light on the unique health challenges faced by first responders and offers evidence-based strategies to navigate them. Roger's transition from the demands of the first responder life to the discipline of nutrition science equips him with both the firsthand experience and the professional acumen to guide shift workers through the complexities of managing wellness around the clock.

Our conversation takes a deep dive into the significance of listening to our bodies, understanding the natural ebb and flow of hunger, and the role of chrono nutrition in synchronizing meal times with our internal clocks. The nuanced discussion around intuitive eating provides listeners with the tools to escape the dieting merry-go-round and adopt sustainable, healthful eating habits. Roger and I tackle the often-neglected topic of late-night cravings and the importance of fasting overnight, offering practical tips that promise to realign your body's rhythm no matter your work hours.

Caffeine and light – they're not just parts of our daily routine, they're pivotal players in the quality of our sleep and mental health, especially for those in the line of duty during unconventional hours. Roger shares an eye-opening account of a firefighter's struggle with energy drinks, leading us to scrutinize our own caffeine consumption and its far-reaching effects on rest. We wrap up with actionable advice on optimizing exposure to natural light to master our circadian rhythms, ensuring first responders, and shift workers alike, can safeguard their mental well-being amidst the chaos of non-traditional work schedules. Join us for this insightful episode as we equip you with the knowledge to take control of your health against the clock.


BIO:

 Roger Sutherland veteran 24/7 shift worker working in front line law enforcement in Australia.  Certified Nutritionist and One 2 One shift work coach.    Body Image and Disordered eating certified and well read in women’s health.   Currently studying Chrononutrition and Chronobiology to best assist shift workers with evidence based strategies around their 24/7 shift working lifestyle.Roger coaches shift workers One 2 One to Thrive, not just Survive while coping with the rigors of 24/7 shift work.

I currently have One2One coaching positions open for 2024 but they don't last long.
Website: ahealthyshift.com

Instagram: @a_healthy_shift

Facebook: AHealthyShiftLinkedIn: Roger Sutherland

Download my Free “The Circadian Fast” e-bookLearn what to eat and when while navigating the night shift



Your one stop shop for graphic design, screen printing, embroidery and more.  Proud sponsor of the All Clear Podcast.

Use the code All Clear to get 10% off your first order.

studioprintshop.com

Support the Show.

Thanks for listening to All Clear!

You can contact us with questions, suggestions or just to say hi at our website
allclearpodcast.com


Also Visit Our Sponsors - Studio Print Shop at
studioprintshop.com

Speaker 1:

This week on All Clear, we speak with Roger Sutherland of A Healthy Shift. Roger is a health and wellness coach that focuses on helping first responders thrive, not just survive, in our profession. We will also look at the science of how to keep our minds and bodies focused and strong despite long hours of stress. Hey, how's everyone doing? Travis here Don't have Eric with me today. He is out dealing with some urgent issues at a local department, but he does send his greetings. But today I am not alone. I have a wonderful guest with me today. I have Roger Sutherland from A Healthy Shift. He is a shift work coach and he is also a fellow podcaster. How are you doing?

Speaker 2:

today, roger, I'm absolutely fantastic. Thank you very much, travis, for having me on the show. Obviously, by my accent people will recognize I don't think I've got an accent at all, but I'm from Melbourne in Australia, down the very bottom of the big island of Australia there, and it's such a pleasure to be on your show. Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1:

Oh, we appreciate it. We appreciate it and, like I said, I've heard you on another podcast discussing what is a healthy diet for shift workers and I was like, hey, we need to get this fellow on with us. But why don't you tell us a little bit about your background and we'll just leave in from there?

Speaker 2:

Well, to be honest with you, I started in law enforcement here in Melbourne in 1984. So therefore, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out, now that we've hit 2024, that I'm actually in my 40th year of law enforcement 24 seven shift work At around about 55. After 35 years of shift work, I started to recognize that there is a massive problem. Apart from the fact I was starting to panic because I'm thinking it's time for retirement, what am I going to do? I actually identified that we really do have a lack of education for shift workers in nutrition and health and wellbeing and the bottom line is no one really knows how to do shift work. We all do it. We complain that we're tired, we complain that we're putting on weight, we have all these problems which are impacting on us biologically really badly. So what I wanted to do was because I've got the experience of actually doing the 24 seven shift work, what I wanted to do was learn as much as I could about evidence based nutrition to understand the impact that nutrition is actually having on us when to eat, what to eat. So I went off and did a course. I got accepted into the world renowned Mac nutrition uni, which is probably the gold standard of nutrition. You only get 400 people get to do that course every single year.

Speaker 2:

And I'd met the director of the uni and he told me that. He told me that the best way for it to coach a shift worker is to coach them out of shift work and tell them not to do shift work. And I argued with him that yeah, that's fantastic, but who's going to come and put your house out when your house is on fire? When you ring 911, who's going to answer the call? Because if we don't have shift workers, so we need to optimize our bodies for shift workers best as we possibly can. There's no secret that it is bad for us, but I believe that the research in the past has been done with zero education.

Speaker 2:

I'm here today to change the way people go about their food timing, the way they approach shift work, the way that they attack their sleep and things like that, to help them to fully understand that you can actually thrive and not just survive while you're doing shift work If you understand these simple strategies. And the director of the school got back to me about two weeks later and said I really love what you're doing and I would like to put you through the course during COVID. I studied for the whole time and I'm now certified as an evidence based nutritionist where I help shift workers worldwide. I've coached hundreds and hundreds of shift workers one to one worldwide and I now help them with simple, evidence based strategies and, of course, a lot of them are free and simple things that you can do to help you to optimize your life around shift work. So that's what I've been doing.

Speaker 2:

I'm now 59, going on to 60. And this has become, it'd be fair to say, quite an overwhelming business where I'm a one man show. But I'm spreading the good word and I'm deeply honored to be having an opportunity to talk about this on your podcast, travis.

Speaker 1:

We appreciate you being here and, as I mentioned, I had first heard you speak on a podcast called men's intuition that was dealing with intuitive eating. I personally have tried to improve the quality of how I care for myself, specifically through food. I've done things like cutting out sodas, trying to eat better food but eat manageable quantities. I hate the word diet, I hate the word or I hate the idea of you can't eat carbs, you can't eat this, you can only eat that, and it was massively discouraging. But when I discovered that podcast, I'm like, oh, wait, a minute, this is what I'm already doing.

Speaker 1:

And then, when I found you, all the tumblers fell into place and it's hey, there's something here, and not just for me, but for all my brothers and sisters in the fire service. There's something that they can take away from it. But so I guess the initial question is when we start talking about eating as firefighters and or first responders in general, whether it be EMS we have a few of those guys. I think there might be a police officer or two out there listening, but we won't hold that against them. Whatever we, whatever we talk about that, what is a good and I'm going to use the D word diet. What is a good diet or way of eating for firefighters? What have you found to be the true.

Speaker 2:

Okay, I love that. First of all, let's use that word diet. And the reason why I say let's use the word diet is because we all have to eat and while we're eating, that's our diet. Regardless of what you're doing when it comes to food, regardless of what you're eating when you're eating or how you're going about it, it is a diet. So it's not a fat loss diet, it's not a bulking diet, it's not an anything. So I think if we use the word diet, we it has connotations of I'm on a diet, I've got to lose weight, but I think that's wrong. So let's just change the framing of that as one and we'll call it a diet. That's what we eat Now.

Speaker 2:

As a firefighter, it's an incredibly active role. It's a difficult role. It's mentally taxing, it's physically taxing. It's a really different, a difficult job. So the first thing that we need to do is we need to make sure that we are fueling that, and I think that's the most important thing.

Speaker 2:

And I will be quite clear with people that restrictive diets, taking carbs out, going keto, doing carnivore, being vegetarian, being paleo, being vegan, whatever is your vice knock yourself out, but make sure that you are actually fueling your body to perform at its utmost best. Anybody that will know that if you were a person who has taken carbs out of your diet and because you've decided that keto is the way to go, you actually feel awful. What you do, you feel really awful and when you understand the science behind that, it's because of lack of carbohydrate. Our body, while it doesn't have to have carbohydrate, that is the body's preferred energy source, so you need to have carbohydrates because carbohydrates are broken down into glucose. Glucose becomes energy for our body to function. Thank you, In fairness, our brain and our central nervous system both function on glucose. So if you're a person that's cutting carbs at your diet because you think it's going to make you gain weight, you're wrong. That's not actually the case. All right, carbs don't make you gain weight, Just as fat doesn't make you gain fat.

Speaker 2:

Fat is extremely important for our body to help us for a energy. It is also helping us to manufacture hormones like testosterone and to suppress estrogen and progesterone. In males, and while you're a female, it also helps to manufacture estrogen and progesterone, which are the female sex hormones, and suppress testosterone as well. But fat is very important to help us also to absorb fat soluble vitamins, which you know, vitamins like vitamin D, which is extremely important to our health and well-being.

Speaker 2:

So the answer to the question what's a good diet is to make sure it's balanced. We've got good lean proteins. We have a good serve of carbohydrates, the right carbohydrates being fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, etc. And then we also have healthy fats as well, like avocado is ideal, and also olive oil and nuts and seeds as well. They all provide us with healthy fats and we need to make sure that we're getting a really good balance of all of that to fuel those bodies, to climb those ladders, handle those hoses, to go through the rigors of what you're actually doing when the tones go off, so that you can get to the call without feeling absolutely awful. So let's remove diet mentality and let's fuel our body for what it actually has to do.

Speaker 1:

It's interesting. I've got my journal here that I've been keeping when I have revelations that are not necessarily new to the world but new to me about food. I have a note here that I made and I wanted to read. It says hunger is the drive to get energy, not fill the belly. Respect hunger, and I don't know if those are somebody else's words in particular, but they stuck with me and I wrote them down and I think you hit it when you talk about don't? You don't have to cut out carbs, you don't have to limit this. But when we don't limit things per se, what do we have to do? What's it important that we do with our eating schedule, our eating habits? Is it okay to go grab a big greasy burger at whatever McDonald's or whatever is on the way, or is that totally counterproductive to anything that you?

Speaker 2:

did you preach? I think one of the most important things, travis, is this and keep in mind in today's society and if I can, just before I answer that, I'd just like to go back over this as well One of the biggest problems that we have today is we've completely lost touch with our hunger and our satiety cues. All right, and the reason why we do that is because if you look at the people in the firehouse while they're reading, they're staring at their phones, they're scrolling, they're watching TV, they're not actually engaging with their food. Now you might think that's happy clapper, woohoo. But how many times have you been sitting watching television at home and you've put your hand in the bag of Doritos and they're all gone and you haven't even realized that you've eaten them? And this is something that happens all the time because we are so distracted. How many times do we go to Christmas lunch or Thanksgiving lunch, or we have Easter or birthdays and we walk away from the table with a food coma, like a food belly? We've got all of that happens to us all the time, and the reason why this happens is because we've completely lost touch with checking in with ourself and, I think, the most important thing that we do going back to the original question as well is are we checking in with ourselves? Am I actually hungry or am I literally emotionally eating? Or am I bored, or has something just happened which has upset me, or where is it? And I think one of the most valuable resources that I would get your listeners to actually Google this is the hunger and fullness scale. And have a look at the hunger and fullness scale on the internet and have a look at that and it tells you where you should and should not be.

Speaker 2:

And to check in with yourself, without going into too much detail on that, but ask yourself the question am I actually hungry? And then, while you are reading, where am I now at? Am I starting to feel? If you're starting to feel, push your plate away, have a conversation and wait a few minutes and wait and see. Don't eat all of that meal that's in front of you just because that whole meal is in front of you. Check in with yourself because one day you will be not very hungry and we all go through that, don't we, Travis? We have days where you're really hungry one day and you just can't fill yourself up Yet the next day or a few days later, you think God, I'm really not hungry. Honor that with your body, honor those signals and check in with yourself. Am I hungry? No, not really, so I'm not going to eat. Don't eat at breakfast time, lunch time, dinner time, just because it's breakfast, lunch and dinner time, but don't restrict to the stage where you overeat when you get to the next meal as well.

Speaker 2:

I think honoring your hunger is one of the most important things that we can do. So now, having said that, coming to your next question, which was how do we work out when we eat and when we shouldn't eat, I will be quite clear that what the evidence tells us around chrono nutrition these days, and that's the timing of food and the impact that it has on our body, which is chrono biology. The more I read about it and the more I understand about it. It's more important for us, as shift workers 24-7 shift workers to get majority of our nutrient intake in during the biological day and to try and eat at breakfast time, lunch time and dinner time of the normal nine to five. So what you would normally eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. I think the biggest mistake or not? I think I know the biggest mistake that shift workers make is that they try to flip their meals like that.

Speaker 2:

You go in on night shift and you're doing a night, overnight. So what you do is you have your breakfast when you go in, you have your lunch or your dinner at three o'clock in the morning and then you have a main meal and then you try and go to bed. What you don't realize is, overnight your body has literally shut down. You might be awake, but your digestive tract is responding to your circadian rhythm and your circadian rhythm naturally shuts your system down during the biological night. Now, the biological night is from around about nine o'clock at night until around about six am in the morning, every single 24 hours. Circadian means circadias, which is about a day. It comes from the word circadias, which is about a day. Every single day, your circadian rhythm runs through that cycle of being awake during the day, being asleep during the night, rest and digest. But while you're awake, your internals are still going through that rest and digest and I'm awake.

Speaker 2:

So the key here, the key takeaway for your listeners, is don't eat overnight at all, unless you absolutely have to, because we don't want to get to the restrict stage where you get home from work and then all of a sudden you're opening the pantry and the fridge and you're eating everything inside.

Speaker 2:

So the idea is overnight you must avoid those highly palatable carbohydrates and fats, the highly processed, those burgers, the chips, the donuts, the all of the suvlakis, all of the foods that are available to us overnight. Unfortunately, we have to restrict because that literally floats around in our bloodstream and just gets parked as body fat and is very counterproductive, because our body does not metabolize food as efficiently overnight and you're stressing your body by doing that. So if you stick to Monday sorry, to breakfast, lunch and dinner during the biological day and do your utmost best to fast overnight, you will find that you will absolutely thrive, your body will thank you, you will go into and come out of your night shift so much better and you will feel alive, instead of taking forever to get over it because your system has been taxed.

Speaker 1:

That is yeah, I think you've hit the nail right on the head. Your body does. It does shut down, even though you may be awake. I think that's the key takeaway on that. But let some of my co-workers that work the 24-hour shift are like man. I got to have me a Bola ice cream at 11 o'clock at night, or whatever the case is. Whenever snacking comes around, I know you said be aware. Why are you eating? Is it because you're hungry? Is it because you have a craving, or you bored or emotional? Whatever the case, whenever someone does have that odd urge to eat late, is there something they can do that would be, I guess, not too destructive to their bodies to be able to eat that time of night if they need a snack or something?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely there is. I would never tell someone what I'm doing just so that people understand as well is I'm not making it a law that you can't eat. What I'm doing is I'm just explaining to people what is optimal and what is not optimal. All right, so that's the first rule to put in place, so that you understand. If I eat this bowl of ice cream at 11 o'clock at night, it's a long way less than optimal, and you've seen them, travis. You've worked in stations. You know exactly what it's like. There's food available, there's ice cream in the fridge. They grab a tub of ice cream and they knock themselves out having that, and this is very detrimental. So I think the best thing to do is to stage healthy snacks overnight, and one of the best things that you can do is to have a high protein snack. I would be having something like some cheese and crackers, because what happens is when I say cheese and crackers, I'm not talking about getting a whole platter out either. We don't get a whole platter out with some cold cuts and some pickled onions and everything else on it, although the pickled onions would be good. What we're trying to do is by having something like cheese and crackers or some Greek yogurt, flavored Greek yogurt, with some protein powder in it, with some berries, or something like that. That's the best thing to do. It gives you something to look forward to, that you're going to have at a time that you personally know is your crunch time three o'clock in the morning, five o'clock in the morning, 11 o'clock at night and the reason why we have a Greek yogurt or a cheese and crackers and a Greek yogurt with fruit and protein powder is because what actually happens is the carbohydrates slay down the oxidization of the protein and it keeps us feeling full up for longer. But it's also. It slips through the system really easily and we're not taxing our system.

Speaker 2:

I've been the victim as well. I've gone through having my pastor Bolognese at three o'clock in the morning as well. I can't begin to imagine the damage that I was actually doing at the time, but we've all done it. I'm sure your boys and girls that are out there fighting fire at night, coming back to the station at three o'clock in the morning, going oh, I'm starving, I've got to have that my lunch or whatever I've made. It's the worst thing you can do. What you really need to do is just have yourself a really good solid drink of water like a really good drink of water. First, because our hunger and satiety signals come from the same area of the brain as dehydration and hydration. So we need to just check that it's not actually dehydration as well, because I'm sure your firefighters they're not standing there drinking water all the time while they're fighting fire. They're surrounded by it but they're not actually drinking it.

Speaker 1:

right Sweat a lot of it out.

Speaker 2:

Exactly right, because of the equipment that you're wearing, you're sweating it out, so you might find that instead of being hungry, you're actually dehydrated. So replace that, because your body it's highly unlikely that your body is literally going to be hungry overnight highly unlikely, right? Because your body is not used to digesting food. So the signal is probably confused, right? So what we want to do is we want to make sure that we're getting a protein and a carbohydrate in, and we can do that with yogurt and berries, because that will fill us up for quite some time with the fiber in the protein, as well as the cheese and crackers. I'd just like to add as well, if I can, on my website and if people go to ahealthyshiftcom, so it's a healthy shift all one word dot com On that website, if you scroll down to the bottom, I've actually got a free ebook that is available to people to download on how to structure the overnight fast and what to eat and when, at what times, for what you can actually do.

Speaker 2:

I think your people will find that very beneficial and it's obviously it's free of charge for you to actually go in and download that. And also it's got a couple of cheeky recipes in there as well, which I think your people would find really beneficial. There's my famous pumpkin soup that's in there, which is just delicious, and there's also another one for a frittata, a vegetable frittata, which is ideal for people to have overnight as well. Just a little snack.

Speaker 1:

Excellent. I will definitely include the connections for that in the show notes so that folks can definitely get a copy of that. I noticed a copy of it when I was going through the stuff you sent me the other day. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I am looking forward.

Speaker 1:

But now when we talk about eating well and making sure we don't disrupt our sleep, let's talk about the great circadian disruptor, caffeine. I know that in the fire, in the firehouse, I know around here they almost have it in IV bags. They mainline it, they love it. Caffeine keeps things moving in a lot of ways. So I know caffeine is not necessarily a bad thing If properly administered. I was sitting in a class a couple of years ago and there was a fellow behind me. He was a younger firefighter. He had three monster energy drinks. They were probably 24 ounce or better. He had three of them. He drank two before lunch. We went to lunch he came back and drank the third one. I'm like, dude, you're going to kill yourself doing that. He's oh no, I'm used to it. So I guess the question is, how should we view caffeine? Where does that fit into all this? Because it definitely gets us moving, Absolutely.

Speaker 2:

First of all, I think the most important thing to understand is I'm not going to prove it's important. I've done law enforcement shift work for 39 years and if you think, oh, I'm going to stand here and tell you that we don't need caffeine, I'm not here to do that. Right, caffeine's important, but the timing of caffeine is imperative. It's really important for us. Now, what I want to say to you is there's been recent research that's just been released, and one of the two major impacts that caffeine has on us One is on our sleep, and the other thing that it has on us as well is our digestion. Right, because we have massive problems with digestion, which is actually caused by excessive caffeine. I think it's important that people understand that the maximum dose of caffeine a day for people should only be 400 milligrams, right, and if you're pregnant which I'm sure you and I aren't, but that's if you're pregnant it's 200 milligrams.

Speaker 1:

So what would that be equivalent to? How many cups of coffee? I think that's a stand.

Speaker 2:

If you're having your let's just say, you've got a coffee machine, which I'm sure your fire stations will have a coffee machine you will find that one shot of coffee is approximately about 70 to 80 milligrams of caffeine and you would generally have two shots, right? So generally, when you fill up and you have your takeaway coffee, it would be two shots, which is around about 125 to 140 milligrams. Now this depends on how it's been done. It would be generally 120 to 140 milligrams. Now let me just tell you this too, trove, just so that you understand. The recent research has shown that caffeine at 107 milligrams which is less than that one cup that you have has an impact on subsequent sleep for up to nine hours later. Nine hours, not four hours. Generally, we knew that caffeine had a half life of four to six hours, but we now understand that caffeine has an impact on subsequent sleep. Now what that means is that if you're drinking caffeine, it's going to impact on that subsequent sleep for up to nine hours afterwards. That's just 107 milligrams, right? So that's less than one coffee. So if you imagine that you're at the station and you get to the station at 6 PM, you have your caffeine, you have another one at 7, you have another one at 8, and then you have one at 11, and then you come back to the station at 3, and you're really tired and you're going to have another caffeine. Then you have another one at 5.

Speaker 2:

What a lot of people will tell you, and I'm sure your firefighters are all going. Caffeine doesn't affect me. I can still sleep, that's right. You can probably still go to sleep. But by golly, once you've released that sleep pressure because you've dozed, when you release that sleep pressure, the next thing that happens is you wake up and you can't go back to sleep. That is the caffeine. That's what the caffeine is actually doing to you. So you have trouble actually staying asleep and, when you do wake, going back to sleep.

Speaker 2:

So not only is it that, but let me just say this to you old mate that had his three monster energy drinks in pre-workout and this is where your firefighters will sit down on their chair and scratch their head but in that pre-workout, the only really effective ingredient in a pre-workout is caffeine.

Speaker 2:

And if you have a look at the label on your pre-workout, you'll find that it's got in excess of 200 milligrams of caffeine in each dose, because that is literally what is giving you the pre-workout the caffeine which is most effective. Most of the other stuff in it is filler and rubbish. So when you take that 200 plus milligrams, these same researchers found that 217 milligrams of caffeine which is, you know, less than probably a lot of pre workouts are impacting on subsequent sleep for up to 13 hours 13 hours. So if you think about it, if you're a firefighter that gets up at 7 o'clock in the morning and goes and does your Workout, takes your pre-workout, goes and does your workout at 9 o'clock in the morning, that is still impacting on your subsequent sleep at 1 am. The fuck that night.

Speaker 1:

Man, that, that's. That's a lot is digest Literally. To think about that, caffeine can have that big of an impact. I know, if I don't have my caffeine in the morning, but I have my cup of coffee, I've got the headache and and I have a miserable day and Just keeping it in perspective is the best, best thing to do and realize it could impact how you sleep tonight.

Speaker 2:

Well, it's not 10 hours late has, yeah, a trail of destruction behind it somewhere. You will see where you have self-destructed. And when I have my clients and we start looking into Areas because they say I can't sleep during the day or I can't sleep at night or I can't do this, when you start looking at different things like stress, and then you look at caffeine, then this is one of the biggest problems as well, and we need to. Caffeine is essential. It. I call it nectar of the gods Don't get me wrong, because it is. It's nectar of the gods. Caffeine it's the most beautiful thing that God ever put breath into, that invented. So thank you for the caffeine, but we do have to use it and manipulate it at the right times to get us going. But then we also need to cut it out. And I just want to say this too the less caffeine that you have, the less you need it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and and I do agree with that, I know there are some guys. They're weirdos. If you're not a little bit jittery, you're not good at you. I can't trust you.

Speaker 2:

I'll totally agree with that we don't need those negative people in our life. If you don't drink caffeine, you're a weirdo. That's all I can say.

Speaker 1:

Sounds good to me. So one more thing I know that is and this kind of goes along with the napping in the caffeine Daylight exposure. I know we talked about how vitamin D is critical for us and I know we talked about LED lights a little bit before the show, but that's a conversation for a different day. But when we talk about natural light, how important is that to us as first responders to be able to be affected?

Speaker 2:

I want to just touch on that one, as well as to how important it is. One of the main reasons why we, as shift workers, feel so Awful and out of touch with the world most of the time is generally because we are so out of sync. We have a De-synchronized circadian rhythm, our circadian rhythm, which, as I told you before, runs a day Every 24 hours. It resets. The only way that resets is with a sufficient amount of Daylight blue light. It needs that daylight to reset.

Speaker 2:

It is imperative that when we first wake no matter when, that is that we actually get Daylight. So we need to get our cup of coffee. This is when we use it. This is when we get our cup of coffee and we sit on the back door step. Well, we sit on the back deck and we look out to the light and we just set our intentions for the day, drinking our caffeine, letting it soak through the veins and how beautiful it is, while that daylight is hitting the sensors in our eyes and telling our body oh, it's daytime. We reset here. This is where we're at, and now we suppress all of those sleep hormones and we actually now start to Bring up all of our daytime hormones to get us actually up and running, what cortisol etc. Get us going. So daylight is the key circadian rhythm Resetter and we need to be getting daylight as early as possible when we first wake up.

Speaker 1:

Excellent. So, in addition to setting our mind, so to speak, and getting our bodies set in the start point for the day, how detrimental can that light be if we're exposing ourselves to it too late in the evening, for example? You mentioned the phones, the tablets, the computers. I know there's a lot of research is being done about blue light in particular and things like that not true daylight but how does that impact this if we're still playing on our phone?

Speaker 2:

It's massive the impact is really bad for us now too, and but what we're looking at is One of the biggest problems and we're in a better world now. Even the guy sitting around the station at night let's not forget sitting around the station at night with the lights on over the top, looking at the television as well, because looking at the TV, that's blue light. But we're lucky. Next, a lot of TVs now have like blue light filters that come on at certain times as well. With our smart TV we also have, like our iPhones or our androids also have blue light filters on them as well. Now, this does help. It does help, but it's not ideal.

Speaker 2:

We've got to remember the most important thing is our eyes are looking at light and it confuses our brain. You don't remember our brain and the sensor in our brain, which is called the super charismatic nucleus, has no idea Whether it's daytime or like nighttime, other than looking at light. Light is what actually is triggering it to the day. So if you imagine if you're sitting in the station to 11 o'clock at night or midnight, or you're coming back to the station at 2 o'clock or 3 o'clock in the morning and you think I can't sleep, I'll just sit here and play on my phone for a while, or I'll watch TV for an hour.

Speaker 2:

You're actually causing yourself a lot of problems. So you need to turn those lights down, turn that TV off and read a book for a bit and then go and have a sleep, if you're able to. Obviously, because the blue light stimuli is actually what it does is it suppresses our melatonin, and our melatonin is actually our hormone. That is the sleep signaler. It actually signals the processes in the body that it's time for us to go to sleep. So it's, whether you're looking at your phone, whether you're looking at TV, whether you've got the lights on over the top, the blue light is actually creating all sorts of problems, also causing a lot of problems with circadian desynchronization, because the body gets so confused as to where it's at.

Speaker 1:

Yep, absolutely, roger. It has been so fascinating talking to you today and you get what stresses our own a first responder and I'm glad to see that you've put your energy into learning things that you can teach us to help us have a healthier and better existence and, like you said, not just survive but thrive at being a first responder. And a lot of times we talk about here on our podcast, we talk about building a better firefighter, and it's not just your diet, it's not just your mental health, it's not your cancer exposures, it's everything together and just these few things we hit on today huge and I greatly appreciate you sharing that with us.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much. I think it's really important that we don't focus on nutrition, that we don't focus on mental health, that we don't focus on exercise. It's got to be a holistic approach, but it's also got to make sense to people, and I think a lot of people that are actually listening to this can go. You know what that actually makes sense. It actually makes sense, but it's about where do you start? Where do you start to help yourself? And what a lot of people don't realize as well, travis, is this, and that is light, and circadian desynchronization impacts severely on our mental health, severely, and you know yourself because you've worked the night shift. The strange people and I'm just going to call them strange people, the people who are mentally challenged that are out and about- Not just at night, not just at night.

Speaker 2:

But the ones that are out at night are generally because they have this circadian desynchronization which is causing insomnia. So that's why it impacts so severely on our mental health. So if I was going to give two pieces of advice to a firefighter today, to start with number one, it would be do not eat between 9pm and 6am unless you absolutely have to. And if you do make it what I said, have a look at my ebook and it will explain to you the best way to go about it. That would be the first one. And the second thing that I would say is when you first wake, expose yourself to outside daylight. Where you are is expose yourself to daylight.

Speaker 2:

Now people might say, oh, but I don't get daylight at 7 o'clock in the morning. When you first get up, expose yourself to daylight. Don't crawl out of bed, flop on the couch, turn the TV on, because that is not helping you. You need that. 10,000 lux of light from outside. Even an overcast day, that's still an incredible amount of blue light, the correct blue light. It's also the correct daylight to help us. So don't leave it overnight and get that daylight first up and watch the difference that it makes.

Speaker 1:

Excellent, I appreciate that information. We will have all these wonderful links in our show notes for you. But, as I mentioned, eric, my co-host, isn't here today. But we have a tradition here where I typically ask Eric a question. But I'm going to ask you a question today if that's okay, knock yourself out, go right ahead. What do you call a well-balanced horse? What do you call a?

Speaker 2:

well-balanced horse. No what's a well-balanced horse? Stable Okay, that's good, that's good.

Speaker 1:

Is this where I?

Speaker 2:

laugh, you can assert laugh track. I can't remember the way more laughter button needs to be here some way Anyway.

Speaker 1:

I was going to say, yeah, that's our terrible tradition here on our podcast.

Speaker 2:

Here we go, you ready.

Speaker 1:

Yep.

Speaker 2:

There you go.

Speaker 1:

Hey. So, roger, how can folks get a hold of you and tell us about your podcast too, because I did mention you're a fellow podcaster. I'm sure there are folks want to listen at any cost.

Speaker 2:

Thank, you so much, travis. The first one is you can find me on the website which I said before, which is a healthyshiftcom. Everything is parked on there. That's the home of a healthy shift. It talks all about me, who I am and all of those sort of things. I also write regular blogs which I put up on there to give tips and tricks for shift workers as well, to help them in a number of ways. I have my own Instagram account, which is at a underscore healthy, underscore.

Speaker 2:

Shift Obviously post at least every day, sometimes twice a day, sometimes not for two days, but I offer just little snippets of information that will definitely help shift workers, help your firefighters as well. I'd love to have more firefighter interaction because I want to learn from them of the challenges that they face. I coach paramedics, I coach a lot of nurses, I coach police, but I don't have a lot of firefighters and I know that they're not. They haven't got it all together and I think if there's any, ladies females are my speciality in coaching. Females do shift work a lot harder than males do. There's no doubt about that, and I can tell you why and give you strategies around how that will help.

Speaker 2:

The other thing is. I've got my own podcast, which you'll find a healthy shift, just a healthy shift. There's a picture of me there and I release one episode every Monday and Friday and I also highly recommend that your listeners go to my podcast and find Dr Jill Joyce. She is episode number 64. I've spoken to Travis about Dr Jill Joyce. She is very involved in working with firefighters in firefighter environments to help them with their nutrition and health. She's out of the Oklahoma State University and she's absolutely fantastic. It was such a good podcast. I would highly recommend that you have a listen to that.

Speaker 1:

I'll tell you, I'm a podcast junkie myself and you just picked up.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much.

Speaker 1:

Regardless, no worries, no worries, anyway. Thank you again, roger, for being with us. Thank you for everyone listening, and I'll speak for Eric when I said, as we always do, go ahead and light the fire with it. You have been listening to Paul Clear. All Clear is presented by the North Carolina Firefighter Cancer Alliance and the first responders peer support network. This program is hosted and produced by Travis McGeach and Eric Stevenson. Visit our website, allclearpodcastcom, where you can contact us and leave feedback. If you like what you hear, please share this podcast with someone. The opinions of guests do not necessarily represent the views of the podcast. This podcast is recorded with Descript and with technology that is provided by Cortech Computers. We'll see you soon and, as always, light your fire with it.

Optimizing Nutrition for Shift Workers
Understanding Hunger and Eating Patterns
Caffeine, Natural Light, and Sleep Impact
Circadian Desynchronization's Impact on Mental Health