Sneaky Stressors with our sleep expert Michaela Sparrow
Do you suffer from sneaky stress that keeps you up at night?
According to our own sleep expert Michaela Sparrow, sneaky stress is a form of physical stress that affects your body. It pushes your body into a constant flight-or-fight mode even when you’re not experiencing any mental stress.
Michaela has a bachelor's degree in naturopathy, she is a clinical nutritionist, and she has also done further study in anti-aging medicine. As a naturopath, Michaela uses integrative pathology, herbal medicine, nutritional medicine and a completely personalized approach for each of her clients.
She looks at the body as a whole, ensuring that all the body systems interact together in the best possible way. And one of the things that can significantly disrupt this balance is sneaky stress.
What is sneaky stress?
Sneaky stress is a form of physical stress that affects your body while you might not have the feeling of mental stress. You could be sipping cocktails on Fidji and your body might be in a super-stressed out state and you do not know.
Sneaky stress can affect your body in so many different ways:
- Your gut lining: Inside your gut wall, you have little “locks” that are unlocked by different nutrients so they can get into the bloodstream. Now, when you have any type of inflammation, aka intestinal permeability (leaky gut), there are all sorts of things that are going through those locks creating inflammation. That inflammation over a long period of time will start impacting your adrenal health, your thyroid health, your hormones, your blood sugar, your insulin, your joint health, everything.
- Your microbiome: If your microbiome (your balance of good & bad gut bacteria) is imbalanced, it's going to create inflammation and imbalance of your hormones and your neurotransmitters.
- Your liver function: Sneaky stress can shut down liver detoxification functions. This can lead to an imbalance in your hormones, your blood sugar, impact your insulin and create inflammation - not good for sleep.
- Your thyroid function & your adrenals: If you're not absorbing nutrients properly from the gut, neither your thyroid nor your adrenals can work properly. You're not going to get the nutrients you need for healthy hormone production and healthy sleep.
How can you tell if you have sneaky stress?
While everyone is different, here are some things that are more common than others:
- Disrupted sleep
If you are not sleeping well, if you are not falling asleep quickly, if you are waking up multiple times a night, if you’re waking up feeling unrefreshed-all of this could be a sign that you suffer from sneaky stress
- Afternoon energy drop
If you’re experiencing an energy lag between 2 pm and 4 pm, that is a good indication that your cortisol, insulin, and blood sugar aren't optimal
- Digestive issues
Do you have a bowel movement at least once every day? Are you feeling bloated throughout the day? It should be fully formed
- Skin issues
Things like rashes and acne could be a symptom of sneaky stress
- Mood issues
For example, anxiety is a sign of deficiency in neurotransmitters, deficiency in microbiome and deficiency in nutrients
How does sneaky stress affect your sleep?
When we are in this constant fight-or-flight mode caused by gut, thyroid or adrenal issues, our body doesn’t feel safe.
It will start pumping out cortisol and disrupting your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the body's sleep-wake cycle. If it gets offset, our body will make hormones - including melatonin - at the wrong time or in incorrect amounts.
If you’re having too much cortisol released later in the day because of the sneaky stressors in the body, this is going to shut down your melatonin production.
This will not only disrupt your sleep but in the longer term all your hormones - including estrogen, progesterone, insulin and others.
Why should you address these stressors?
The holistic approach we use as a team allows us to look at the body as a whole and how everything is connected.
If your gut health is suffering, this will have implications on other parts of your body and it will affect your hormones; that could be your cortisol, melatonin, estrogen, or testosterone. (Oh, and women have testosterone, too - we make estrogen out of it.)
Eventually, that will affect your adrenal function (the glands that sit on top of your kidneys and make cortisol) and your thyroid.
It is all connected and it's a bit of peeling all the layers of an onion to address the root cause.
Most people can heal very well. The important point to note is that the longer you wait to address the issues, the more time you will need to reverse them.
There are a lot of different things that happen when we don't sleep well.
Sleep is how our body rests and regenerates.
And if you’re not getting quality sleep during the night, that can cause your neurotransmitters to drop as well as your minerals to deplete, especially vitamin B and magnesium.
Also, not getting enough sleep can create a lot of inflammation in the brain, which will obviously impact your cognitive function in general, but also plays a really big role in your mental health.
With Michaela, you first work on moving your nervous system into a safe state, while she makes sure that you’re nourishing your gut, your liver, and your adrenals in a number of different ways.
Keep in mind that it's not about being perfect, it’s about being realistic.
It's about coming up with strategies that fit into your life and that can support your health and your sleep according to where you're at in your life, your time and your mental ability.
If you’re interested in learning more about Michaela or working with her, you can visit her website as well as her Instagram.
If you want to book a Sleep Like a Boss consult with Michaela, you can do that here.