Improve Your Health with Better Sleep with Brian Greene and Johann Callaghan

Brain Greene (00:08):

Hello and welcome. I’m joined today by Johann Callaghan. Johann has been speaking with me before on the radio, but today, we are in different circumstances of course, and everything seems different. So we returned to the topic of sleep and how to get some with Johann because yeah, as I said, everything’s changed. Hello Johann.

Johann Callaghan (00:36):

Hi Brian. How are you?

Brain Greene (00:38):

Not too bad. What are you up to these days that has you so busy?

Johann Callaghan (00:45):

Oh God. Well at the moment obviously one of the prime concerns is keeping the immune system really strong and it’s a concern a lot of people are having at the moment with this virus going around. So what I’m up to now is, I have a seven day sleep video series, boost your immune system with better sleep and it’s doing really, really well. And, you know, in the video series it’s looking at, not only just your sleep because sleep has a profound impact on our immune system, but the gut health, our mental health, everything, it’s all holistic

Brain Greene (01:20):

and it’s kind of natural and free. If we can sort out our sleep it will kick in our immunity. Is that what happens?

Johann Callaghan (01:28):

Yeah. Well, you know, our immune system relies so much on our sleep, particularly deep sleep. And really we have most of our deep sleep in the first half of the night. And studies have shown that, you know, during the night-time when we are asleep, in a deep phase of sleep, it produces all the cytokines and the antibodies on our T-cells, which, which are our killer cells. So just quite a lot. And there is studies show that, you know, if you have five hours of sleep or less in any one night, it can really decrease or, suppress your immune system by up to 60 or 70% so that’s quite profound.

Brain Greene (02:05):

You have all the science words, people won’t have to really learn them, will they? They just need to get good practices that what’s going on.

Johann Callaghan (02:13):

Yeah, exactly. It’s, you know, it’s just all about getting into a good habit. But really, really what I find is that if people have an appreciation for sleep, if people have a new view or a new perspective on sleep and how it can have an impact on your health and your wellbeing, you know, on all levels, physically, mentally, emotionally, and for your immune system of just the physical part. But when people have a different perspective, they’ll start to value sleep and then they’ll start to prioritize sleep. So that’s really what my aim is.

Brain Greene (02:43):

And then at the beginning do, most people value their sleep at all.

Johann Callaghan (02:50):

I don’t think so. You know, there’s a lot of people that are abused and actually human beings are the only species who deliberately deprive themselves of sleep. You know, like we stay up late at night time and you know, two, one, two o’clock in the morning, then we’re getting up early for work. And now at the moment with the current climate we’re binging on Netflix and or a drink and alcohol and wine and you know, we’re just really abusing our bodies are not allowing our bodies to get into that circadian rhythm, that cycle, that normal cycle, that we’re supposed to be, you know, involved in. So yeah,

Brain Greene (03:22):

this is something we spend one third of our life doing and we don’t look after it.

Johann Callaghan (03:28):

It’s massive, isn’t it? Like one third when you think about it, you know, so the has to be something really profound about sleep. If we are asleep and for a third of our lives and really is something not to be overlooked.

Brain Greene (03:40):

and what’s at the beginning, could people do, do they need to kind of look inward and say, you know, what are you doing to yourself or are Jeff’s be kind to yourself to look into this? Where do you start?

Johann Callaghan (03:52):

Well there’s a couple of things that I could say there. So really it’s about how we are during the daytime as well because you know, there’s a lot of stress. And is that a Busyness in our lives. Um, you know, before the virus came out, you know, we were rushing to our jobs and we were working as much as we could even for the entrepreneur. They’re trying to get as many hours of work in as they could, they’re just staying up late at night-time. So we need to change how we are managing our daily lives and you know, be able to reduce this stress because we’re actually going to bed wired and tired. So the first thing really is to be able to reduce our stress during the daytime. So whatever that is for you that enables you to slow down. You know, it could be, we’re not taking enough breaks and some people see it as a form of laziness or you know, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re a messing on the job type of thing, you know, if you’re, if you’re taking breaks where it’s really vital to take a break, the body needs a break

Brain Greene (04:48):

and exercise during the day is something that we probably don’t do enough of that’s going to help us get that good sleep.

Johann Callaghan (04:56):

Yeah. Exercise is really important. You know, and you know, exercise and first thing in the morning is great. Getting out, getting that sunshine. Sunshine helps to really set their circadian rhythm again, you know, having to reset all the biological clocks in the body. And you know what the one thing about exercise is it produces all these endorphins and serotonin and serotonin is a hormone that we do need to help us for our sleep hormones. It’s a precursor for melatonin, which is a state hormone. So exercise does enough, a lot of things it helps to reduce stress as well. You know, all that pent up energy and it really makes you feel good during the daytime. So exercise is super important.

Brain Greene (05:36):

So people need to maybe guess you said something habitual habits, like a routine of a good healthy daytime before we start even looking at night and we recap that’s on the activities that you do exercise wise. And the other one reminds me was

Johann Callaghan (05:56):

exercise and reduce your stress, um, reducing the stress over the breaks. Super important. Yeah, super important. And you know, a copy, a copy. You know, what I like to do is every hour take like a two to three minute break. That’s just a very small break. And because it’s like for me now, for example, I’d be on my laptop quite a lot. So it’s super important that I come away from it. But also, you know, notice when your body is tired during the afternoon between one and three o’clock, that’s normally the slump that we have as normal. You know, it’s normal. And to recognize that it’s not because we’re eating a meal or a lunch or anything, it’s a normal slowdown that the body naturally has so recognized us. And you know, we do have our breaks between one and two o’clock in the afternoon if you’re working a normal day typically. So take your breaks and don’t be working through your breaks. You know, that’s really important.

Brain Greene (06:47):

You mentioned humans being the only species that deprived themselves of sleep. Um, I observed my two cats here at home quite a lot and they kind of go for, you know, 16 hours of sleep and maybe more and about six hours a week and out doing things. But when they’re sleeping, one sleeps on a bean bag and the other sleeps in any warm space it can get. Um, they, they toss over, they turn around, they’re even looking after, you know, their comfort as they sleep. Like they will get up, stretch and go back asleep again. They’re, they’re really, I think they’re, they’re professionals. They’re taking their sleep seriously and we fall asleep, put the phone in our hand going is it on charge and it’s gone. Um, and then we wake up, um, back on the treadmill like not the exercise treadmill, but the treadmill of life and doing something the next day. And even though everything’s changed and it has for me in terms of I’m, I’m not working in an office now, I’m working as home. It’s even busier. I’m taking less breaks. I’m running my lunch up to two 30 is when it starts. And that’s if I’m lucky. So I suppose eating will be important as well, isn’t it?

Johann Callaghan (08:08):

Yeah. Oh yeah. Eating is, and you’re right, like when you say about the mobile phones on, on how our lifestyles are now, like where most people are working from home. Um, we’re, we’re spending a lot of time with the computers and then obviously eating. So we’re having more cups of tea during the daytime and a couple of cups of coffee. So caffeine is not great, it takes a long time for metabolize in the body. So that’s the first thing to be mindful of. And then how we’re eating. So it might be a lot of people that might eat while they’re doing something on the computer and really you need to, um, you know, like treat having your lunch, like a ritual. So you really need to be mindful of eating as well and not eating while you’re working. Um, because you know, that’s a signal to the body and you know, you’re supposed to be in I rest and digest state when you’re actually eating. So your food, will absorb in your body properly, uh, and not when you’re actually doing something. And the worst thing you can do is eat when you’re stressed as well because obviously that’s kind of your digestive system is shut down to a certain extent. It’s not operating on its full potential when you’re stressed. So it’s really important that you’re stress-free and eating at ease

Brain Greene (09:14):

and you’re not a dietitian, but I’m sure that the, the foods you do eat, we, we go for these snacks with sugars and salts that are probably not great for us. Are they going to kick into our bad sleep?

Johann Callaghan (09:27):

Yeah. Well I mean sugar. Absolutely. And there’s a lot of people going for more refined foods and, you know, the white carbohydrates and all of that and, under sugary snacks, um, particularly at night as well for if we’re working a way. Yeah. Well, yeah, the, the sugar is going to have a massive impact on your blood glucose. And for enough, a lot of people who tend to wake up during the night-time blood sugar could be an issue. Um, because when you drop two, when you drop below your baseline, your cortisol is going to kick in, which is your stress hormone. And because we do need to have a certain level, uh, in our, in our, in our glucose, in our blood, in our system, and if your cortisol kicks in, that’s going to wake you up. That is our wake up hormone. So we need to be mindful of all the foods that we’re eating, sugary snacks, refined foods or that type of thing. Especially if you’re eating chocolate and stuff like that. And night-time before you go to bed.

Brain Greene (10:17):

So we’ve had to look at, you know, how to prepare ourselves by having a good, healthy day before we go to sleep. We touched on the technology. Maybe we’ll come back to that, but where does it start? When it gets to night-time and you’ve, you’re going to go asleep, should you go asleep? Yes. As part of routine, there’s a set time.

Johann Callaghan (10:40):

Yeah. The best thing because the body likes rhythm on routine. So, we do have this 24 hour biological clock. I know I keep talking, but the circadian rhythm and the circadian rhythm is really super important because we need to be aligned to this circadian rhythm, have you ever flown on a plane, you know, a 10 hour journey or whatever and got that jet lag. So it’s like, it’s exactly like that. If we’re out of routine, with our sleep. Yeah. So going to bed and getting up at the same time every day is really important. because it’s our body again, it’s routine. Our body’s expecting that and it’s a cue then, and it’s within the circadian rhythm. and it’s especially more important to wake up at the same time because you’re resetting, the circadian clock, your circadian clock has to be reset first thing every morning.

Johann Callaghan (11:24):

And getting sunshine is, is really important for us in the morning. But to come back to winding down before we go to bed at night-time, slowing the body down the heart rate, our body temperature, on our blood pressure, they all need to reduce down to enable the onset of sleep. So how do we do that? Well we do things like, well, first of all, we need to get off the computers. So we’ll talk about that in a minute. But we need to do things like read and take a hot bath, yoga, gentle stretching, exercises, whatever it is for you it could even be just knitting, whatever is for you that slows you down or slows down the brain, to enable that onset of sleep. and I’m usually that wind down would take about an hour typically. And it’s the same for our children as well. Especially like for everybody, we need to have this wind down routine.

Brain Greene (12:12):

One of my sleeping cats has just woken up, stretched and gone out the upstairs window onto the roof tiles to probably get some air looking after itself yet again. So at that wind down, really important how you do as a but I’m going to go to the, the phone in hand, the elephant in the room, the phone, the charger in the bedroom. Yeah. You know, beside the bed, in the bed and people looking into that screen, it’s got to be all bad, isn’t it?

Johann Callaghan (12:49):

Yeah, it is. Absolutely. And you know, the majority of people do take their phones to bed with them at night-time. And there’s three things really that’s going on with the mobile phone? First of all, it’s a stimulant. It’s a stimulant to the brain. So it’s um, it’s increasing levels of, of what’s called dopamine. And dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that actually increases the addiction, this addiction. So you may find when you’re a swollen on Facebook, you’re not looking, for anything in particular, you’re just looking for it’s a seek and reward kind of a neurotransmitter. And it just keeps seeking for something so dopamine, that’s what addicts us to our phone That’s why it’s very difficult for people to put the phone down. And then also you’ve got the blue license file. So the blue light is going to suppress that melatonin and melatonin is the sleep hormone. So it’s really important and for every hour that we’re on our mobile phones with that blue light glaring at us, it’s suppressing your melatonin levels by 30 minutes. And we need monotone and to keep us knowing, just to get us to sleep at night-time, for, to transition us to all the different phases of sleep during the night-time and keeping us asleep during the night-time as well. So that’s the stimulants to dopamine. the blue light and, yeah, that, that stuff, all those would have massive effects.

Brain Greene (14:02):

So we didn’t need mobile phones. We didn’t have them in let’s say 1993, 1992, 1991. We didn’t have to have them in our hand. Every waking moment on every tweet and Facebook updates and little red dots going, we’ve got another like or whatever it is. So we can leave that out. Let me put forward, something that’s in my head that if we have this mixture and menu of bad habits that are going to lead to bad sleep, but we’re still somewhat tired and we’d go asleep and we get six, seven hours of sleep, but it’s bad sleep. What’s that going to do to us that like we slept, but it wasn’t great sleep.

Johann Callaghan (14:45):

Yeah. So you’re talking about quantity of sleep there, so you make at the required hours in quantity terms, but quality sleep is not good. Sorry. It’s not good if you don’t get the quality sleep.

Brain Greene (14:57):

You know if you’ve got the quality,

Johann Callaghan (15:00):

well if you wake up, if you wake up in the morning on your pad, your eight hours sleep or whatever number of hours you normally you normally have when you go to sleep at night-time, if you wake up and you’re feeling like really crap, your head is all foggy and you feel like you could go back to bed. So obviously you know you’re not refreshed. It’s really when you wake up, refreshed and, you’re ready to go for the day. That’s when you know that you’ve gotten the required quality of sleep that your body needs.

Brain Greene (15:27):

So you wake up like that, bad, crappy, let’s call it. And then there’s this industry called the caffeine industry and there’s one on every corner. Now. We can’t just go down to a Starbucks nowadays, but there’s machines in the kitchen that will wack out a coffee really quickly. Caffeine. Then kind of chase that goes on all through the day. Is that there kind of supplementing the bad sleep.

Johann Callaghan (15:55):

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, cupa coffee in the morning is, is okay, but not if you can’t start your day with a cup of coffee. And you know, some people literally they cannot talk to you or take a phone call or do anything until they have at least a cup of coffee. So that’s a bad sign. and then if you’re taking the cup of coffee, it’s going to lead to another coffee and another coffee because

Johann Callaghan (16:18):

that then effects are only going to, that’s a stimulant. We know caffeine is a stimulant and it only lasts for so long. and when it goes low, then you’re going to have that crash and you’re going to need another cup of coffee to keep it going. So it’s a vicious cycle. The thing about caffeine is it takes a long time to metabolize. And so really what I say is to people is to have your last cup of coffee about two or three o’clock in the afternoon if you want it to metabolize because it takes that long for half of it to metabolize. So you know, if you have a cup of coffee at eight o’clock in the evening after dinner or whatever, I mean that’s still in your system. Now I’ve had people come to me and say, Oh I need a cup of coffee to get me asleep at night time.

Johann Callaghan (16:56):

So I had to figure that one out, because I was a little bit perplexed about that but there are some people who are addicted to coffee, so that’s a different issue. They’re addicted to the coffee to the caffeine and they can’t do without it. But for that person, if they have the cup of coffee before they go to bed at nighttime, there is proven, you can see it in sleep labs that are not getting the deep quality sleep that they need. And then they’re starting the day, again, same thing, vicious circle. So that’s what caffeine does.

Brain Greene (17:24):

The majority of things we’ve discussed are things that happen outside of the bed and even outside of the bedroom that are going to prepare you to get a good night’s sleep. Is there anything about the bed parts that you know, your now in bed and what can you do there with regard to let’s say, you don’t feel like if I, my eyes, I’ll go asleep now. Should you get back up and do something until you feel like that or should you stay in bed and w and how should you practice? Like is there anything you can do just lying there? Count sheep?

Johann Callaghan (18:02):

no counting sheep doesn’t work too well, but no. First of all, you have to create an association where your bed that you know, it’s something that you’re looking forward to, that you know you’re going to get a good night’s sleep. So first of all, if you can’t go asleep, say it’s taken me 20 minutes, half an hour. You know, if it’s taking you a long time to get to sleep, the best thing to do is get out of bed and go and read or do something that will, you know, until you feel tired. Cause it’s this association that’s really important. Obviously you’re bed equipment, I call it. So you need to have a really good mattress on a good pillow as well. and even down to your pyjamas or whatever that you’re wearing, they need to be comfortable. You know, you’re spending a storage of your life in bed.

Johann Callaghan (18:41):

So you need your equipment as I call us to be, to be quite effective. And then you also said, um, if you’re lying in bed and you can’t go to sleep at night-time, what do you do? So there’s a lot of people who would have anxiety at night-time. It would pop up at my time, and this is because going back to all this busyness that we have during the daytime, so during the daytime, we’re distracted with things to keep us going. And then at night time when we are lying down, there’s nothing going on. So what happens, all the thoughts come into our heads and this is where all the anxiety comes from. So what can you do? There’s a couple of things that you can do there. You can do your breathing. Breathing is very, very effective. Breeding can activate the,, the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the calming part of the nervous system.

Johann Callaghan (19:28):

Helping you to fall asleep. Breathing is really, really effective, especially the deep belly breathing. That’s a really good thing. What a hack that I like to use is to remember yourself to sleep. And what I mean by that is when we’re thinking of all these things that you have to do or you’re worrying about something or whatever, all these thoughts that are creating anxiety, you’re doing that with this part of the brain here, which is the prefrontal lobe. This is your conscious brain. Now if you remember yourself to sleep. So if you remember, go back to a holiday that you had or some events that you had a good time and you remember it and you were recall it in your brain, you’re accessing a different part of your brain and it’s the same part of your brain where your sleep centres are. So your activating your sleep centres. So it’s a little hack to remember yourself asleep as opposed to thinking about everything tomorrow that you have to do or whatever. So that’s probably the best.

Brain Greene (20:23):

Don’t be thinking that spreadsheet and seeing that spreadsheet in your mind’s eye go further back and start seeing the old films in the back of your brain that are places you went to when you were

Johann Callaghan (20:35):

yeah, and enjoyable. An enjoyable event. And it could have been something that day even, you know, or something the last week or something that you know, that brought you know that, that you’re grateful for you know, that made you happy. And gratitude is another great thing as well that you can do very simple. Just something that you’re grateful for. Because it creates a high frequency in your body, you know, that’s, you know, where there’s love or whatever. And it could be, yeah, you know, your daughter or your son or whenever you’re a spouse, if you’re not killing them at the time, but to know. But like that love of it activates that. So when you’re in a space of love and joy and gratitude, there’s no room for worry and fear. So gratitude is a really good thing to do at the moment, whatever that’s going on.

Brain Greene (21:21):

Yeah. And be kind to yourself. You’ve written a book and it’s called how to get a good night’s sleep. Did you write another book or are you doing some courses or something at the moment

Johann Callaghan (21:32):

I’m in the middle of doing another book. I’m starting another book and it’s really on my, my own story. And, um, and, I’ve literally just started that. So that’s going to be a longer journey, I think, quite therapeutic as well. So I’m going to be sharing an awful lot, but what I learned in my life as I went through my life. And, so I’m really excited about that and what where you saying, online courses.

Brain Greene (21:56):

Are you doing anything? Yeah, because the books out and I’m sure people who haven’t read it could, everything we’ve been talking about and more are in the book. And you can read that, you know, maybe before you go to sleep each night or maybe you know, as you’ve got extra time at the moment you can you get that on Kindle.

Johann Callaghan (22:14):

Yeah. It’s, it’s and that webpage will give you the, it’s on Amazon as well it gives you the links into the Amazon whereas it’s on Kindle. And I am recording, an audio book. I am recording that in audio format and that will be out in a few weeks’ time. So, well I do have enough at the moment. Anyone who buys to paperback with automatically get a copy of the audio book as soon as it’s out.

Brain Greene (22:41):

Brilliant. And, did you, I think you said something before about online courses. Yeah. Yeah.

Johann Callaghan (22:49):

I have. I have the seven day sleep series at the moment. And it’s boost your immune system with better sleep. So, fantastic program. It’s a very, it’s like a mini course that’s available at the moment and you’ll get that on my website as a short link as well, it’s So you get it on there or you can get it on my own main website,, you’ll find the links to that. There’s a special offer at the moment for that. It’s 15 Euro and there’s three different packages, but it starts at 15 Euro. So you can, you can check that out there as well.

Brain Greene (23:26):

And maybe to conclude, what is your top tip, top two tips for people to kind of change their ways to get better sleep.

Johann Callaghan (23:39):

I think it has to be down to technology and mobile phones really, because that’s where we’re having the biggest challenge and especially right now at the moment and zoom and everyone is on these conference calls. So my top tip would be, you know, really be mindful of how much time you spend on technology because you have all this EMF radiation, which, which is bad for our health. It’s an invisible radiation that we can see but it is very bad for our health. You need to turn off your Wi-Fi router if you’re not using them at night-time, turn your phones on flight mode and preferably do not have a phone in your bedroom at night-time and do not charge anything in your bedroom at my time. That’d be my top tip.

Brain Greene (24:21):

Okay. Johann Callaghan it’s been a pleasure talking to you again and getting an update because in this area, I suppose maybe I did say final question, but with everything that’s going on in the world, is there anything that we can kind of learn about how we value sleep in, in the world that we now live in?

Johann Callaghan (24:42):

Yeah. when you get a good night’s sleep, you know, your brain function, your whole cognitive function, it is so much better. And you know, it doesn’t just only impact you, it impacts the people around you and the family that you’re living with as well. Your children, you know, and you know, I’m really passionate about children because they learn from you and they learn from your behaviours. And if you’re, you know, a positive person, and a lot of stress resilience, and you’ll get all that from a good night’s sleep and that’s going to have an impact on our children. That’s probably the greatest gift that you can give to yourself on your family as well.

Brain Greene (25:21):

Brilliance. Johann Callaghan, and I’ll spell that, J O H A N N for the website. Thank you very much for your time today.

Johann Callaghan (25:32):

Thank you Brian. It was incredible . Sleep well tonight.

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