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JOHN PETROZZI: Hi. Welcome to Living Is Easy with John and Josh. I’m John Petrozzi.

JOSH HARPER: And I’m Josh Harper. What’s on the show today, John?

JOHN PETROZZI: Well, today, we’re going to talk about how to get a great night’s sleep every night. It’s really important, isn’t it?


JOHN PETROZZI: I sleep pretty well at nighttime. How about you, Josh?

JOSH HARPER: I do. I sleep like a log.

JOHN PETROZZI: Today, we’ll talk about things that you can do; there’s going to be, actually, lots of tips that you can take home and implement straight away, even tonight to help you to get to sleep better. So, you can either use every single one, or just a couple, of the suggestions we’ll talk about.

JOSH HARPER: I know when I don’t get enough sleep, John. I wake up and I can’t function properly. Why do we actually need sleep?

JOHN PETROZZI: We need sleep so our body can repair essentially. If we didn’t get any sleep at all, say, we went for three or four days, or even a week, long without having sleep, the things that will happen, first, is your body won’t repair or heal. So in that period of time, if your body did become damaged, for instance, you got too much sun or you ate the wrong food, your digestive system was irritated, or for instance, you had a broken bone and you didn’t get sleep for a week, for instance, you’re depriving your body from its ability to heal and repair itself.

JOSH HARPER: So does most of our healing happen while we’re sleeping?

JOHN PETROZZI: Yeah, it does. The majority of it does. There’s no specific figure, but I’d say it’s probably about 70-80% portion of our healing happens at nighttime when we sleep.

JOSH HARPER: And is that also when our cells regenerate?

JOHN PETROZZI: Yeah, totally. For instance, every single cell in your body is actually programmed to die, and it’s programmed to repair and regenerate. The thing that tells it to do that is the cell’s DNA. For instance, bone cells last seven years and then they’re programmed to die off and regenerate and repair. So essentially, we got brand new cells every seven years. It’s fun, isn’t it?

JOSH HARPER: It is. What about our other organs?

JOHN PETROZZI: Liver repairs itself every three months or 90 days or so. So, for instance, if somebody has given their liver belting by drinking lots of alcohol and just not eating the right food and toxing up, then every single cell in the liver will repair itself, given the right circumstances, within about three months. It’s an amazing organ actually.

JOSH HARPER: What about smoking and the cells in the lungs?

JOHN PETROZZI: Becoming damaged? Well, it eats up the smokes and allows your body to regenerate and repair itself, as long as there isn’t cellular and, I suppose, DNA damage, then the cells can repair themselves and replicate.

JOSH HARPER: So, that happens all during sleep or most of it?

JOHN PETROZZI: Most of it during sleep. You’re exactly right. Yeah. 80% of our healing happens at sleep time. So today, we’ll talk about different ideas and different tips that we can implement. Try them today, try them tonight if you got some sleep troubles, and see if you can try and get a better night’s sleep tonight.

Again, anti-aging is a huge topic at the moment, and it’s only going to get bigger as our aging population gets larger. So I suppose the topics we’re going to talk about today are the ones that are going to keep us younger for longer and stop us aging too quickly.

JOSH HARPER: So John, what advice can you offer us and our listeners in terms of getting to sleep better?

JOHN PETROZZI: Well, for me personally, one of the main things is not to eat too close to bedtime. I find that if I have a huge meal, I don’t sleep very well at nighttime, because my body is still digesting, and also, it just feels uncomfortable for me, like it’s pushing the tummy, which is full, into my diaphragm. It doesn’t make me breathe properly, so it takes me a lot longer to get to sleep.

JOSH HARPER: And how long before you go to sleep is that?

JOHN PETROZZI: I find if I eat within half an hour of going to bed, I get a rough sleep. If I eat within an hour, it’s okay. I find that, also, my digestion is better if I eat further away from sleep time.

JOSH HARPER: So while you’re sleeping, if your body’s still digesting, it won’t do such a good job with it?

JOHN PETROZZI: Exactly right. Yup. Because when we digest food, we produce hormones and digestive enzymes in our stomach. What they do is basically decompose and break down food into small particles that our body can use as fuel. It uses that as fuel, especially at nighttime, to repair, regenerate, get rid of old crappy stuff and toxins, helps to flush them out for the morning time, but help our body repair and regenerate, which is so important to sleep. That’s why we’re discussing this topic today, really.

JOSH HARPER: And what else do you do to sleep better?

JOHN PETROZZI: Other things I do is don’t have caffeine. To me, it just turns me on. My brain’s just off like a rocket. But then again, I’ve got some guys and some patients at the practice who find that if they don’t have a cup of coffee before they sleep, they actually can’t sleep properly. Again, we’re all different. We all have different digestive systems, we got different bodies, and we’re going to respond in different ways. But for me, I know that caffeine just wakes me right up and turns me on, so I avoid caffeine, a lot of chocolate, and teas before bedtime.

How about you, Josh? What do you find that helps you get to sleep?

JOSH HARPER: Deep breathing is a good one.


JOSH HARPER: Just lying back down, face up, just breathing in and out, big deep breaths. Do you recommend that to your patients?

JOHN PETROZZI: That’s awesome. I find, personally for me, it doesn’t work that well, but I’ve got some patients who use it and swear by it.

JOSH HARPER: It hypnotises you in a way. It’s sort of meditation.

JOHN PETROZZI: Yeah. Do you do visualisations as well? Do you think of things?

JOSH HARPER: No, I’m just pitch black.

JOHN PETROZZI: Blackness. Okay. Well, blackness is actually—we’ll talk about that later in the show—having a really dark room is essential for a good night sleep. Again, the reason is because your brain wakes up when it sees light, even though your eyes aren’t open. If it can perceive light around you or through your eyelid, it starts to secrete a hormone inside the pineal gland, which is a part of the brain. It produces a couple of hormones called “melatonin” and “serotonin,” and they’re basically hormones that start to wake you up and engage parts of your brain. So, blackness is really important. It’s a good visualisation tool to use when you’re doing deep breathing.

JOSH HARPER: And what would you advise people against doing just before going to sleep?

JOHN PETROZZI: Again, I can speak from personal experience from what I do. I find if I have a huge exercise session before going to sleep, say half an hour or an hour before, I don’t sleep that well. So, if I’ve got flowball or something on, or a game of soccer or a run just before bedtime, my mind’s still active and I find I don’t sleep that well at nighttime.

JOSH HARPER: And what do you mean, John, “before bed”?

JOHN PETROZZI: Within, sometimes, 45 minutes before going to bed.

JOSH HARPER: Yeah. It’s funny; I ate mandarin last night and kept me awake for an hour, just the time it managed to get those out to me.

JOHN PETROZZI: Does it really? Again, you’ve got a unique system, and that will respond to sugars, I suppose, and may just to the thing in the mandarin. You should experiment and try another orange one day.

JOSH HARPER: Why is that?

JOHN PETROZZI: Just to see. They’ve got different chemical compounds in them, so your body might react differently to it.


JOHN PETROZZI: Do you talk things out before bedtime at all?

JOSH HARPER: No, I don’t. Do you?

JOHN PETROZZI: Yeah, I find that really useful these days. I didn’t in the past. What I try and do is just try and collapse what I’ve done throughout the day in my mind and just try and think of things that I’ve done throughout the day, and I actually try to put them away at bedtime, just so my mind is not continuously churning through them in keeping me awake. So I’ll do briefings, for instance, with Suzy at nighttime, if I’ve got a worry or hassle. I used to think it was an imposition to talk about your troubles and worries, but I actually find that if you don’t talk about them, they get bottled up inside and come out like a big explosion, sometimes. So that’s a good thing that I do.

JOSH HARPER: But you think it also keeps you awake?

JOHN PETROZZI: If I don’t? Yeah, totally. For instance, last night, I knew that I left work and I still had a few things undone at work. Unfortunately, I kept thinking about them at nighttime before bedtime. The first thing I thought about when I woke up was that one thing that I was meant to do last night. I know just because of it, I had a pretty rough night sleep. My mind just kept churning about it.

So, if you got something that you’re sort of involved in emotionally, or passionately involved in, your mind’s going to continuously think about that at nighttime, so it’s useful to let that go before going to bed, either talking about it or, firstly, just acknowledging it.

Later in the show, we’re going to talk about journalling as well. You can learn how to journal and write things down before bed. But do something that, I suppose, evacuates your mind of thought and just allows your brain to become calm, quiet and able to sleep.


JOHN PETROZZI: So welcome back. Today, we’re talking about how to get a great night sleep every night.

JOSH HARPER: So what are some tips you would advise our listeners to get a better night sleep, John?

JOHN PETROZZI: The first one I think we can talk about is I’ve heard listening to white noise or relaxation CDs.

JOSH HARPER: And what’s “white noise”?

JOHN PETROZZI: White noise would be something like an ocean streaming behind you or the sound of birds or the sound of wind going through leaves, those sorts of things. But white noise can even be trucks on the road or whatever you find relaxing.

JOSH HARPER: Something to someone sounds soothing?

JOHN PETROZZI: Yeah. For instance, for me, I find techno music turns me off. I just want to sleep. I find it really soothing and calming. I find that does something to me, something that, I don’t know, just helps to relax me. I find it really nice and calming.

JOSH HARPER: But please don’t take John’s advice.

JOHN PETROZZI: Exactly. Yeah. Do you use relaxation CDs at all?

JOSH HARPER: I don’t. I find TV hypnotising, actually.

JOHN PETROZZI: Oh yeah? Is that a loud movie or something?

JOSH HARPER: No, not a loud movie. Maybe just a boring TV show puts me to sleep.

JOHN PETROZZI: Actually, that’s a running joke in my family. Whenever we want to see Mom fall asleep, all she needs to do is turn the TV on and she’s out within five minutes. So again, that’s an ambience sort of noise that your brain can sort of tune out and sometimes does help to relax you, so that’s a really way of doing it. I know my partner, Suzy, she uses relaxation CDs with her and her clients, and a lot of them find it really, really useful.

So for instance, listening to some Bach or Mozart music or something classical, what that does is help your brain to tune out, slow down, change its rhythm into a slower rhythm and that gets you right into sleep most of the time. But again, it’s different for everybody. I know I’ve got some patients who find that when they go away on holidays and it’s really quiet, they can’t sleep because it’s too quiet, and they’re used to the city life of hearing traffic along the street or people walking past their window.

JOSH HARPER: Right. So it’s really whatever anyone finds soothing.

JOHN PETROZZI: That’s it. Yeah. You’d be surprised what people find soothing. For instance, like for me, it’s techno music. Who would have thought?

Another thing we can try is avoiding things before bedtime. Avoid, for instance, eating heavy meals and snacks before bedtime, especially things that contain a lot of sugars and grains, and caffeine is the obvious thing as well.

JOSH HARPER: Why grains?

JOHN PETROZZI: They just take more time to digest and more energy to digest. Essentially, what your body needs when it’s relaxing before bedtime is it needs to do an activity that doesn’t require too much mental capacity. So digesting, for instance, does require mental capacity, subconsciously, because it needs to relax and tune down so that it can digest. So avoid big heavy meals before bedtime. It also changes your blood sugar level, too. So if you have a banana, for instance, before bed or a steak or some rice or soup, your blood sugar rises, depending on what you’ve eaten. Sugar is like putting high fuel petrol into your car; it makes your car charge and take off.

What sugar does is it’s a compound and particle that crosses the blood barrier into the brain very easily and very quickly. So it gives you sugar heat, for instance, into your brain, and that turns everything on throughout your cortex. It’s not the sort of thing that you want to have happen at nighttime when you’re trying to relax and sleep. So avoid big heavy meals.

Before we went to the break, you spoke about having a mandarin. What does it do to you?

JOSH HARPER: Just kept me awake for an hour or so. It is sort of an obvious thing, though.

JOHN PETROZZI: It is kind of, isn’t it? But you’d be surprised at the sorts of foods that people will eat before bedtime.

JOSH HARPER: What about teas and coffees?

JOHN PETROZZI: They got caffeine, so it’s a stimulant. Also, caffeine is a neurotransmitter; what that means is it’s a chemical that gets, as soon as it’s put into the brain, turns things on, and soon as things are turned on, it’s difficult to turn them off, because that caffeine will stick onto the receptor for a period of time and that won’t budge until that compound breaks down and falls off.

JOSH HARPER: So that will sort of make you keep thinking as well?

JOHN PETROZZI: Exactly. Yeah. You got bits in the brain that work like a domino. There are primary areas in the brain that will work when you, for instance, got a first thought or something. Then, you’ve got association areas in the brain that are just pushing a domino and seeing the whole train of dominoes fall. Your brain works in exactly the same way. And to get to sleep, you don’t want to engage high cortical areas in your brain, but you want to try and avoid thinking about things too much and emotionally becoming involved in your thoughts, because all that does is wake you up.

JOSH HARPER: And we’re talking about food, Josh, before bed, but I’ve heard that high-protein snacks can help you a few hours before bed.

JOHN PETROZZI: Yeah. The way that it actually helps your body is that protein helps your brain produce a couple of hormones called melatonin and serotonin. It basically helps produce this compound called L-tryptophan—I don’t want to get too technical—but that produces melatonin and serotonin.

JOSH HARPER: And what are they?

JOHN PETROZZI: They’re hormones that help you to get to sleep, and they’re also hormones that get you active and happy, too. We’ll go a little bit into that later in the show, but yeah, that’s a good point. A high-protein snack a couple of hours before bedtime can be useful, too.

JOSH HARPER: What else can you tell us, John?

JOHN PETROZZI: Another one is sleep in complete darkness or as close as possible to it when you’re going to sleep. So close all the blinds, close the curtains, close the door if you need to, and just make sure there isn’t any light at all coming into the room.

JOSH HARPER: And why is that?

JOHN PETROZZI: What light does to your body when you’re sleeping is it disrupts that circadian rhythm, which basically means that as soon as you turn the lights off and your body is getting prepared for sleep, it slows down the rhythm of the brain, basically turn bits of the brain off. Also, your body starts to produce different hormones as well and prepares you for sleep. But as soon as your brain and eyes (through your eyelids) perceive any light coming into the room, that light stimulates the stopping of the hormones in your brain, melatonin and serotonin, so that will disrupt your sleep and basically turns the light on in your brain as well.

So it’s even important throughout the night that if you do walk through the house to go to the bathroom, don’t turn the light on in the bathroom when you get in there. what that does is as soon as your brain sees the light of the light bulb, it changes the production of those hormones in your brain and then wakes you up. So if you want to sleep well, don’t turn lights on at nighttime. Try to avoid it, so feel around the house, know where you are, and do what you need to do without disrupting or waking your body up.


JOHN PETROZZI: Welcome back to Living Is Easy with John and Josh.

JOSH HARPER: We’ve spoken about getting to sleep and staying asleep, John. Once we get to the point of waking up, what would you recommend for that?

JOHN PETROZZI: I suppose if your body gets enough sleep, firstly, it should wake up on its own. Try and become rhythmical and regular with the time that you actually go to bed and get up in the morning, because your body loves rhythm and consistency. So oftentimes, you might not actually need an alarm clock to wake you up. But avoid using loud alarm clocks, because that noise is something that’s actually going to take your body out of the sleep mode and into waking mode very quickly and very abruptly.

JOSH HARPER: And does this stress you out?

JOHN PETROZZI: It’ll stress you out for sure. It will increase the cortisol levels that you excrete in the morning, which are levels of adrenalin that are produced by your adrenal glands. That’s a normal response that happens in the morning: you’re meant to produce cortisol and adrenalin to wake you up, but to be woken up with a loud noise or alarm in the morning is not a really good idea. The best way to actually wake up would actually be to see sunrise come through your window in the morning. It means that you can hopefully see the sun or light coming in through the window, and what that would do is allow your brain to produce (gently produce) cortisol levels and other hormones to start to wake you up in the morning.

So, sunrise is the best way to wake up. But if you can’t, then what I would suggest is you use some sort of clock that’s got a ringtone on it, or use your mobile phone, but as long as it’s not too loud, something that is gradual in its, I suppose, crescendo to wake you up, some soft music or something soft. I’m sure you’ve seen these pretty cool clocks that actually produce light in the morning. I think they’re called sun-alarm, something like that. It is a clock that you can set to 5:30 in the morning, or whatever, to wake you up. What it does is it’s got this big diamond on top of it, and it’s got a light bulb on the inside. As your alarm turns on, there isn’t any noise, but there’s light that gently starts to grow brighter and brighter, and within four or five minutes, it produces a nice bright light, just like a sun would in the morning.

JOSH HARPER: Just like your sunrise.

JOHN PETROZZI: Yeah. The concept behind that, again, is working with your body innate ability to wake itself up using hormonal changes, melatonin and serotonin cortisol levels. Back in the days when we didn’t need to wake up early to get to work and those sorts of things, your body was going to sleep when it was dark and it’s waking up when there was light, because that’s the productive hours throughout the day. To re-ignite that rhythm into your body is priceless. If you can do that, well, you’re steps ahead; you really are.

JOSH HARPER: You mentioned earlier about expelling your thoughts out of your mind to get to sleep better, John. What do you think about writing them down in a journal?

JOHN PETROZZI: Journalling is a very useful way of getting thoughts out of your head onto something else, so you can actually sleep at nighttime. One way of journalling is just to write things down onto a book, and if your mind’s racing, just write down your thoughts and ideas, maybe concepts that you’ve been thinking throughout the day, get them out of your head, get them onto paper. It might take you a process of 10-15 minutes; try that out for a couple of nights for a week or a month and see if that helps you.

I found that a lot of patients use that diligently, sort of every single day, or for a couple of days, then stop for a month and then do it again. They find that the benefit they get from that is not just a good night sleep, but they actually find that they become more productive as well. Because what can sometimes happen is you’ve got thoughts racing throughout your mind all the time, probably the first thoughts is like I need to get the dishes out, get the kids to school, get to work on time, need to see this person or that person, try to do my best. And then your brain’s going to conceptualise things that you want to do in the future and things that you’ve done in the past as well.

So your mind is almost in a flux of past tense, present-time consciousness, and then future tense as well. It’s in a state of that mode throughout the day. By journalling, what you’re actually doing is bringing those three worlds together and putting them on paper and out of the way. That process can be processed as well, because you’re actually conceptualising ideas, allowing your brain to digest all patterns and actually produce new patterns to allow you to become more productive in your life as well.

JOSH HARPER: Do you journal, John?

JOHN PETROZZI: I journal, yeah. I think it’s really useful.

JOSH HARPER: At nighttime?

JOHN PETROZZI: I do it throughout the night sometimes, or I can do it during the day. I actually find it useful doing it during the day, when my brain’s really active and my adrenalin level is nice and high, so I can take advantage of a bit of momentum throughout the day.

JOSH HARPER: But do you find that if you do it at night, it sort of gets rid of the ideas?

JOHN PETROZZI: I do. Often, what I like to do also is if it’s not journalling, just actually writing out full sentences. All I do is just a couple of points. So I’ll get my book out and I might just write down a couple of points, maybe things I’m working on presently in work or in personal life, those sorts of things, or write them down just so I know I don’t need to think about them at nighttime, because I don’t really need to remember them because they’re written down. It’s kind of like having a to-do list, I suppose, throughout the day.

I knew a guy who used to have a book beside his bed. He called it his inspirational journal. What he did is wrote things in it before bedtime. His mind was super active; it’s like a rocket. He found that at nighttime, when he woke up—he didn’t wake up that often, but when he did wake up—he would have a thought in his head that’s awesome and he would write it down straight away. the reason he wrote down was just so he wouldn’t forget it, but also so his brain did not have to continually think about it, because it’s sort of put away and he could go on to the next concept and idea.

Dreams are an awesome—I’d love to do a show on dreams; we’ll do that in the future—dreams are fantastic. Firstly, you can listen to them or remember them; that’s half your battle. But then also, deciphering the messages that are held in there for you is another topic. Isn’t it?

But to get a better night sleep, people find it useful to journal or write things down, get it out of their head so their brain can get on with the job of healing and regenerating their body.

Thanks for joining us today on Living Is Easy. Today, we spoke about how to get a great night sleep every night. Be sure to join us next week. Thanks again for your company.

Until then, stay well and stay happy.