Sleep: Dr. William Ferro On Why You Should Make Getting A Good Night’s Sleep A Major Priority In Your Life, And How You Can Make That Happen
Let’s focus on the environmental, emotional and physical toxicity that is out there, and avoid DISease in your life to achieve the overall health that will lead to consistent, quality sleep. The solution is the cure!
Getting a good night’s sleep has so many physical, emotional, and mental benefits. Yet with all of the distractions that demand our attention, going to sleep on time and getting enough rest has become extremely elusive to many of us. Why is sleep so important and how can we make it a priority?
In this interview series called “Sleep: Why You Should Make Getting A Good Night’s Sleep A Major Priority In Your Life, And How You Can Make That Happen” we are talking to medical and wellness professionals, sleep specialists, and business leaders who sell sleep accessories to share insights from their knowledge and experience about how to make getting a good night’s sleep a priority in your life.
As part of this interview series, we had the pleasure to interview Dr. William Ferro.
Dr. William Ferro is a health, fitness, and wellness innovator who founded products and services in B2C and B2B markets. He grew one physical medicine practice called Proactive Health into thirty locations across seven different states. Dr. Ferro also grew and exited one of the fastest-growing multi-location personal training programs, SweatPT.com. During these two endeavors, he created BetrHealth to solve adherence for lifestyle modification with a heavy emphasis on personalized nutrition with reliable engagement, sustainability, and outcomes.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your backstory?
Thank you for having me! I am Dr. William Ferro, the Founder & CEO of Raleigh-based Betr Health, a CDC-approved ‘food-as-medicine’ method that has revolutionized the health of 30k individuals over the last 10 years, and is trusted and covered by over 40 health insurance plans. A born and raised New Yorker with a long and winding road in the health, fitness, and wellness industry, I founded products and services in B2C and B2B markets, having grown a physical medicine practice called Proactive Health into thirty locations across seven different states, then growing and exiting one of the fastest-growing multi-location personal training programs, SweatPT.com. During these two endeavors, I created Betr Health to solve adherence for lifestyle modification with a heavy emphasis on personalized nutrition with reliable engagement, sustainability, and outcomes.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this particular career path?
Before Betr Health was born, I realized there were larger issues at play regarding the changes in our current human state. Something was changing in our world, and an increasing and spiraling amount of stress was becoming more and more prevalent every day with an explosion of ADHD, anxiety, weight gain, digestive issues, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. I had to bear witness to thousands of people who joined health clubs and worked with dietitians and trainers that struggled through a daily uphill battle, and it became clear that we needed to reduce stress and improve the body’s ability to respond to it through drastically improving the brain/gut connection.
We know that fitting into a healthier lifestyle is only half the battle, so Betr Health provides clients with an education in health and wellness, as well as habits and tools to help make this new lifestyle sustainable. The science itself is rooted in digestive health and a positive mental outlook, but our diverse cultural, environmental, and genetic backgrounds make it impossible for a “one size fits all” approach. Everyone already thinks they know which foods are “good” for them and which ones are “bad”, but very few people understand which particular foods may not be best at a certain time or within a certain diet. Our protocol has a built-in elimination and reintroduction cycle that has proven to uncover health food terrorists that cause inflammation and weight gain for that specific individual. For instance, one of our clients lost over 35 pounds in the first sixty days of our program when she discovered that quinoa, greek yogurt, and raspberries were actually unhealthy for her.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the sleep and wellness fields? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
Good sleep is a birthright, and it is the precursor to overall good health. Without it, it is impossible to function at a high level which sets you on the path for multiple diseases. The underlying reason most people aren’t getting good sleep comes from stress, inflammation and doubt. It is my mission to “break the vicious cycle of intergenerational chronic DIS-ease” and help you and your loved ones come together to identify the Doubt, Inflammation And Stress (D.I.S) in your life and help you realize it’s the DIS-ease that is sabotaging your overall health and YES, your sleep! The legacy of chronic DIS-ease is the root cause of a life without ease, and we’re here to make the cause your solution!
he considers your own body a sleep expert, and his goal is to get it out of its way …..
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Undoubtedly, ‘The Tao of Leadership: Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching Adapted for a New Age’ by John Heider. I always wanted to find a way to empower the power that’s already inside the person, as that is what truly helping people IS. Reading and discovering The Tao of Leadership highlighted the idea that leadership happens from the people, not from the leader. If you’re not the source of their help, you are the source of their enlightenment. Each individual, as well as the group dynamic is always respected and valued for what they bring to the group, and allowed room for growth and discovery.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.” ~ Wayne Dyer
When you’re growing a business, you may over-focus on the competition and consider pivoting your mission based on limited resources available to you in that specific moment in time. If you don’t prescribe to a mindset of abundance, you allow self-limiting beliefs in. If you don’t believe that the world, happiness, and joy is abundant, what are you doing here? Applying abundance as a life lesson has enabled the growth of Betr Health as a CDC-approved ‘food-as-medicine’ movement that has revolutionized the health of 30k individuals over the last 10 years.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Let’s start with the basics. How much sleep should an adult get? Is there a difference between people who are young, middle-aged, or elderly?
This goes for people of all ages: As much as their body will allow.
Is the amount of hours the main criteria, or the time that you go to bed? For example, if there was a hypothetical choice between getting to bed at 10PM and getting up at 4AM, for a total of 6 hours, or going to bed at 2AM and getting up at 10AM for a total of 8 hours, is one a better choice for your health? Can you explain?
Your body has natural circadian rhythms, and so some scientists will argue it’s better to be asleep between 10–6am versus 9–5am or 8–4am to tune into natural circadian rhythms timed with the rotation of the earth.
When you’re talking about practicality, you’re always better off doing what works versus what is perfect. Ultimately, you want to get sound, restful sleep. 5 hours of restful sleep is better than 8 hours of tossing and turning. So, focus on quality over quantity.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for our readers. Let’s imagine a hypothetical 35 year old adult who was not getting enough sleep. After working diligently at it for 6 months he or she began to sleep well and got the requisite hours of sleep. How will this person’s life improve? Can you help articulate some of the benefits this person will see after starting to get enough sleep? Can you explain?
Your own body is a sleep expert, and my goal is to help you get out of its way. Sleep is innate, and it shouldn’t take 6 months to be able to close your eyes and go to bed, but unfortunately for many people, it does.
Anyone who endeavors to improve their sleep patterns will see drastic changes to their health. Benefits include maintaining a healthy weight, more time for the brain to convert short-term memories into long-term memories, improved concentration and attention, emotional wellbeing and mindfulness, reduced stress, lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, and so much more.
Many things provide benefits but they aren’t necessarily a priority. Should we make getting a good night’s sleep a major priority in our life? Can you explain what you mean?
Quality sleep should be your utmost priority, as it impacts EVERYTHING in the body.
Poor sleep is linked to: increased weight gain in adults and children, higher levels of ghrelin (the hormone that stimulates appetite), an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, adverse effects on blood sugar and prediabetes, anxiety, depression, compromised immune systems, impaired brain function, increased inflammation: IBS, IBD, Crohn’s Disease, and much more.
To achieve optimal health, and CONSISTENT nights of restful sleep, the priority will always be to remove DIS (doubt, inflammation, stress) so you can live the life of ease you deserve!
The truth is that most of us know that it’s important to get better sleep. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives? How should we remove those obstacles?
The 3 main blockages that prevent us from getting a good night’s sleep ALL fall under STRESS. A body at ease will experience great sleep without thinking about it, without having to recognize that your body is stressed and anxious, which will undoubtedly cause next-day mood-swings, cravings, and lasting DISease in the body.
3 Main Blockages that Fall under STRESS
Emotional — These are your day-to-day societal pressures as well as emotions that can be passed down from generation to generation in the form of doubt which shows up as low confidence and high anxiety.
Physical — Past injuries, or from our sedentary lifestyles.
Chemical — The easiest to ignore but impossible to avoid. Stress from chemicals in our food, our air, our water, the overuse of antibiotics and inflammation caused by certain foods.
To remove these obstacles, DISrupt STRESS
Emotional — Meditation, journaling, and fitness are all tools that will help you identify and reduce stress.
Physical — Reduce screen time, make sure to take regular movement breaks throughout the day by standing while working, and talking walking breaks.
Chemical — 1. What goes into the body 2. What goes onto the body (lotions, etc.). If you increase good quality in, and decrease toxicity, you will relieve stress.
Let’s focus on the environmental, emotional and physical toxicity that is out there, and avoid DISease in your life to achieve the overall health that will lead to consistent, quality sleep. The solution is the cure! We call the gut your “2nd brain”, so once you focus on food as medicine, and fuel your body properly, it will be ready to get to sleep. You can drink the bedtime tea, do your meditation, and buy a better mattress, but if you don’t eliminate DISease and heal your gut to reduce stress, none of it will stick. Focus on the emotional, and physical and chemical toxicity that’s out there to eliminate DISease in your life, to live a life of EASE, which will equate to restful sleep.
Do you think getting “good sleep” is more difficult today than it was in the past?
Yes, it is an epidemic, and unfortunately, poor sleep is the single greatest indicator of overall dysfunction in the body that exponentially lowers life expectancy and joy.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share “5 things you need to know to get the sleep you need and wake up refreshed and energized”? If you can, kindly share a story or example for each.
Rather than focus on tricks and actions of ‘Getting a Good Night’s Sleep’, because you most likely have tried them all, my goal is to help you understand how to naturally receive it. After all, sleep is one of the greatest gifts of all time and it shouldn’t be this hard to enjoy it.
It’s not that you are lacking the tools or intentions for enjoying a good night’s sleep. It’s also not like anyone intentionally goes out of their way to deprive themselves of sleep. Instead, it’s this stressed out toxic world that is making it impossible to express ease in our lives. Moreover, it’s not just poor sleep that is being affected, it’s our mood, energy, weight and even how we regulate our blood sugar and pressure. Left unchecked we start to classify the multitude of symptoms into a named DIS-ease.
Your body knows what to do, because it’s a personal sleep expert. SO, let’s break it down:
- REVERSE ENGINEER YOUR SLEEP
- Identify the “Root Cause” of your DIS (doubt, inflammation,stress) ease, because The solution is the cure.
2. DISRUPT STRESS (Emotional, Chemical, Physical)
- Emotional — Meditation, journaling, and fitness are all tools that will help you identify and reduce stress.
- Physical — Reduce screen time, make sure to take regular movement breaks throughout the day by standing while working, and talking walking breaks.
- Chemical — 1. What goes into the body 2. What goes onto the body (lotions, etc.). If you increase good quality in, and decrease toxicity, you will relieve stress.
3. TACKLE INFLAMMATION
- Stress causes the body to be inflamed, and when the body is inflamed, it directly impacts your microbiome, blood-sugar regulation, hormone regulation which can cause cravings and shifts in weight gain, irritability, low mood and energy, and YES, SLEEP.
4. ACT MICRO-LOCALLY
- Improve your gut-health so you can reboot your system and keep toxins out of your body, reduce inflammation, and allow you to absorb and utilize nutrients designed to replenish your body.
- Use food as medicine to heal your gut microbiome, and identify your stress-reducers.
- Empower your community to identify and eliminate where they have DIS (doubt, inflammation, stress) to create a lasting impact on their overall health and sleep for the entire family for generations to come.
5. THE BRAIN/GUT CONNECTION
- The microbiome has a direct effect on your mind and mood. As this connection is reestablished, your body will start to handle emotional and environmental stress better. It will improve how you function physically, including improved sleep, energy, regulated weight, blood sugar and blood pressure
This inside out approach will allow your body to fall asleep, stay asleep, and will in turn allow your body the time it needs to heal and repair each and every night. Within days, many people find that just by acting micro-locally first, you’ll start to sleep like a baby, wake up refreshed and ready to enjoy the ease in your lives.
What would you advise someone who wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep?
The adrenal cocktail is used as a short-term solution to help calm and nourish the adrenal glands. When adrenals fire, symptoms may include nighttime cravings, waking up during the night, and challenges with restful sleep. The combination of the sweet and salty ingredients used in the cocktail helps nourish the glands. Take at night an hour before bedtime and optionally in the morning if symptoms have not improved after several days.
The Adrenal Cocktail Recipe:
4 oz. organic orange juice
½ tsp. cream of tartar (available in your grocery spice rack)
¼ tsp. Himalayan crystal salt or Celtic sea salt
What are your thoughts about taking a nap during the day? Is that a good idea, or can it affect the ability to sleep well at night?
Taking a nap is helpful if your body demands and/or allows it. A quick power nap around 15–20 minutes can certainly be helpful for the body, but try to stay away from 2–3 hour naps that can disrupt bedtime.
Wonderful. We are nearly done. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
How can our readers further follow your work online?
To learn more about DIS-ease and the “food as medicine movement”, visit Betrhealth.com, follow us on Instagram @betr_health, and listen to Quacks and Hypochondriacs on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/quacks-and-hypochondriacs/id1543741676
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!