Written by Christopher Kelly
April 15, 2016
Christopher: Hello, and welcome to the Nourish Balance Thrive Podcast. My name is Christopher Kelly and today I'm joined by Dr. Kirk Parsley. Kirk is a medical doctor. He's a former Navy Seal. He served as an Undersea Medical Officer at Naval Special Warfare Group One. He is a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and has lectured extensively on sleep, wellness, traumatic brain injury and hormone optimization. I am, of course, incredibly grateful for his time. Thank you very much and hello, Dr. Kirk Parsley.
Kirk: Yeah, thanks for having me on.
Christopher: Thank you so much for all the podcasts that you've done. I've learned so much from you over the years especially on the Robb Wolf podcast. You guys have been absolutely great together.
Kirk: I'm glad somebody is listening to them.
Christopher: Oh my lord, it's just fantastic and it's just so amazing. I'm so grateful to all the people as well listening that have sent me so much amazing feedback. And they've been the ones that's saying, "Oh, you've got to get Kirk Parsley on. You got to get Kirk Parsley on." And I'm like, "Oh, I don't know if I can do that. He's probably a very busy guy." So, I'm just incredibly grateful for your time.
Kirk: It's actually a really funny story. Robb and I actually met through doing lectures, both of us lecturing at multiple symposiums, health symposiums. And we got to know each other pretty well. And then we were both lecturing and I can't remember, some place down in Southern California, where one of my houses are. So, Robb just came to stay with me, just going to spend the night, do his thing and then he was leaving.
He woke up and we were talking and then he gets out his computer and sits, doing a little work. He's like, "Oh crap, I'm supposed to be doing a podcast today." He goes, "Do you want to do a podcast?" I'm like, "Sure, okay. Let's go." So, we literally went upstairs and like sat in this little theater room in my house and just sat next to each other with the computer balanced on our knees.
Christopher: That's great.
Kirk: No headphones, no microphones, nothing. And we just went for it and it turned out to be a super popular podcast and we had no idea what we were going to talk about at all and it just all kind of fell together. That was my first podcast actually. That's interesting.
Christopher: Yeah, that is interesting. I know those podcasts work really well. I have the luxury of being able to do that with my wife Julie. We can sit around the same microphone. And I've done it with Jamie Kendall-Weed, is the CEO. She's a medical doctor. And she's been on the podcast. Because she's local too, we write together. And so we've been able to do that as well, like sit around the same microphone. And you get a different sort of interview. When you can make eye contact with a person when they want to speak, it makes a huge difference to the way the audio comes out afterwards. That's super cool. I'm hoping you can do more of that with Robb again in the future because I think of you as two of some of the great, the best voices in podcasting.
Kirk: Thanks. That's a great point. I never really thought of that. There's obviously all sorts of physical cues as to knowing when somebody is done and when somebody wants to speak and, yeah, that's probably a good point. It might be the reason it worked out so well.
Christopher: Yeah, it could be. But let me ask you this. How did you become interested in sleep?
Kirk: Well, actually, my interest in sleep was really thrust upon me. I mean, I could literally, and sometimes I do, so don't let me do this, but I could literally talk for 45 minutes about sort of how this all unfolded. But sort of the Reader's Digest version of it is when I came back to the SEAL teams as their physician, SEALs are just like firefighters or cops or professional athletes or anybody like that who get -- that are pilots -- people who get annual physicals. And they're always worried about losing their position, losing their current job.
So, when they go and see the doctor, they're like, "Oh, everything is great. Everything is 100%. I feel great. I feel terrific. No problems. Yeah, all is smooth." And I'd be like, "That kind of looks like a bullet wound in your leg." "Oh no, that's not. That's just -- I needed some tape to support my calf." They will hide everything and lie about everything. But then when I went back to the SEAL teams, obviously I'd been a SEAL and I actually ended up--
The funny thing is my office where I was a doctor was literally probably about 30 meters from where my platoon space was when I was a SEAL. And so there were still plenty of SEALs around that I knew that I'd gone through training with, that I'd be a SEAL with and they would come to my office and then close the door and be like, "Hey man, I've got to tell you what's going on with me." Because they didn't have anyone else to turn to. They didn't want to tell the doctors the real problem because they're worried that the doctor is going to say they were depressed or who knows what and they're like, "It's psychotic and you need this medication."
And once you need this medication, you're disqualified and you can't do this anymore. If you think about the environment of a SEAL, they can't really be dependent upon any type of medication and then, "Oh, okay, yeah," and just run out and do all this stuff, go out in the middle of nowhere for three to six, ten days, who knows. What if you don't have your medication? What if you always use medication, if you're dependent upon it? It makes sense that there's regulations to controlling them.
Anyways, they came in and they were telling me sort of this litany of symptoms. All I learned in medical school was how to diagnose, recognize, diagnose and treat disease. And if you didn't have disease, I didn't know what to do. And none of these guys had disease but they were saying, "I'm really moody. I'm really grumpy. My motivation is low. My body composition is shifting. I'm working out like a madman like I always have. My sleep is not great. My sex drive is not great."
They kind of go through this whole litany of symptoms which sounded totally fine if they were 80. But they were 30. The guys my age were around 40. But I had guys probably as young as 25 coming and telling me the same story. And honestly, I was like, "I don't have any idea. So let's just do a whole bunch of labs." And so I just started doing these lab panels on people. And fortunately, I was in a position being a doctor for the SEAL teams and the SEALs having some notoriety at that point and there was a lot of support around the military -- This was 2009.
I could literally read some alternative medicine -- I don't even like that phrase. Not quite mainstream medicine. Alternative is probably that word. I could read their book or watch their videos or listen to them on a podcast and I could call them up and say, "Hi, my name is Dr. Parsley. I'm a physician for the SEALs and I really like the work and I was wondering if I could come train with you or if I could consult on patients with you or if you could send me more information on this or that." And everybody was willing. Everybody was like, "Yes, of course. Yeah, I would love to do that."
So, I got to ramp up really, really quickly in sort of the alternative medicine field because I was literally talking to the top guys in kind of every little wedge of what makes that pie. And I originally thought -- because flashback a little bit. When they started telling me all this stuff, I thought, well, we didn't have these problems when I was a SEAL. So, what's changed between now and then? Of course, the most obvious answer is 9/11.
So, you have all these post 9/11 SEALs who've done probably more combat than any SEALs in the history of the SEAL teams. So, I'm like, okay, well there's combat. And then you add on to that, now we have night vision and really dynamic equipment and so we're working a lot more at night and sleeping during the day. And so I said, "You know what, this is all adrenal fatigue." The other thing that I thought of was possibly some sort of nutritional deficiency or heavy metal toxicity from where they were at.
But originally I started treating it all adrenal fatigue and had some success there. But it definitely wasn't 100%. I wouldn't even call it robust. But I had some success there. And then it was literally just -- I remember so clearly exactly where I was sitting and sort of this light bulb, the proverbial light bulb going off of my head and going, "I wonder if this has anything to do with everybody using Ambien every night."
As I thought about it and I went back, every single guy who had come and sat in my office, which at this point was probably 300 people or so, was using Ambien to sleep every night. And so I thought the SEAL mentality of one is good, two is better, three is probably great, so they're taking three times the recommended dosage of Ambien and chasing that down with a couple of alcoholic drinks, a couple of cocktails or beer whatever and not sleeping well. So that made me think, "Well, maybe this has correlation between this adrenal, what I'm seeing, and the sleep," and then started learning about sleep.
And if you look up in any medical, like something for a doctor to use, it's like a patient can't sleep, counsel them about stress and then the next thing is give them a Z drug. That's like Ambien or Lunesta. If that doesn't work then you give them a benzo, which is like Valium or Xanax or something. And if that doesn't work, you start going down the list, antidepressants, antipsychotics, just more and more sedating drugs.
And I'm like, okay, none of that's going to work for me. So, I did the same thing with sleep that I had done with adrenal fatigue. I just called up all these experts and I learned about sleep, reverse engineered it, and it turned out, lo and behold, that sleep was the biggest problem. There probably is some adrenal fatigue. There's definitely some traumatic brain injury. Probably every SEAL has some level of TBI. But sleep definitely seemed to be sort of the most unifying issue amongst all of that.
Once I got people sleeping really well, I got them off of their sleep drugs, which is where my sleep supplement comes from -- The only reason that was ever produced is because the SEALs kept hounding me to produce it because they were tired of having to go buy all the ingredients all over town. And once I got everybody off of their sleep drugs -- I mean, I'm not exaggerating. People think I'm exaggerating. People's free testosterone would quintuple. So, 500% more free testosterone.
Christopher: So, no exogenous testosterone, no fancy herbs to boost testosterone, none of that stuff, no horny goat weed, none of that?
Kirk: None of that, yeah. Just sleeping. I was putting most of them on DHEA because I still thought there was an adrenal fatigue issue and I wanted that part covered. I would give a lot of them Zinc which Zinc prevents some of the testosterone to estrogen conversion from happening. And then estrogen actually feeds back to the brain to tell the brain how much testosterone you're having. If you have a lot of estrogen then you don't make much testosterone. That shuts down how much testosterone you make.
So, just those things. I mean, I actually had one of the SEALs that I was treating, he was -- He's probably my age, maybe a year, a couple of years older than me. He's actually the CO, the commanding officer of the one of the SEAL teams. And working with him, no exogenous testosterone, no tricks to try to improve testosterone, no prohormones or anything like that. Well, I guess, DHEA is a hormone but apart from that.
Christopher: There's no receptor for it, right? I mean, it's supposed to be a neurosteroid but it's certainly not -- there's no receptor for it.
Kirk: Right. It just converts everything to something else. He actually went super physiologic by sleeping well and just doing what we're doing. He sent me his labs back from overseas. His total and free testosterone were actually above the normal range and he was 40, I guess probably 42 years old at that time. His fasting insulin had gone down tenfold. His inflammatory markers had gone down tenfold. He was just -- I mean, if you look at his labs, you'd say this guy is 25 years old or 20 years old. And when I first looked at his labs, you would say this guy is 80 years old.
Anyways, sort of a mix digression there. But really, I mean, that's really how I came to know sleep, how I came to understand sleep. And then my work with the SEAL teams led to other lecture opportunities and other consulting opportunities. And then I got out of the military and I went into a concierge practice and started doing a lot of corporate stuff and professional athletes and trucking companies. You name it. Just kind of like tech companies. It didn't matter.
And I found out, lo and behold, that everybody was having these problems. And I really thought this was a SEAL problem. I'm like it's like this is because of the lifestyle of the SEAL. And everybody has it. When I went to lecture these audiences, it was ubiquitous. I mean, 30%, 40% of the audience would be, "Hey man, you're describing me. That's exactly my problem. I have that exact same thing." And a lot of them would come and talk to me after the lecture and they would be asking me and telling me the exact same things I'd been dealing with at the SEAL teams.
The only difference I would say is that the SEALs probably experienced this ten to 15 years earlier and the SEALs are in amazing shape so they probably have memorized every word Robb Wolf has ever said. They can quote it all back. I mean, they eat, the health conscious guys just eat the most perfect diet and they're really smart about their program and their workouts. Some of them are trained, go figure. But these people are obsessed with their health and physical performance. Whereas the average person isn't. And you would think that that would sort of [0:15:00] [Indiscernible] longer before these things happen.
And perhaps it is getting them longer so maybe they would see the effect 20 years earlier if they didn't do that. So, I just kept learning about sleep and I kept learning about sort of any health issue that people are talking about, any sort of malady or just something that's fairly benign symptom but it's bugging somebody or bugging multiple people, when I work with my clients, and I'll just kind of dig into it.
And at this point, and this is like the worst, as Robb would say, greasy used car salesman pitch in the world, sleep improves everything. I mean, literally everything. I've not found a single thing that I can't tie to sleep being a major component of. And if you aren't sleeping well, you're just at risk for more of anything bad. Anything bad. Or anything suboptimal at least.
Christopher: That's amazing that you managed to hone in on that. Working with the SEALs, there's so many, like literally every problem you can think of, anything you've ever heard on the podcast, that could potentially apply to a SEAL. Like you say, environmental toxicity, chronic viral infections, something going on in their gut. Literally anything. And somehow you've managed to hone in on this one thing that just makes such a massive difference. That's quite incredible. I've seen so many people get pulled off towards the things which are probably less important. They're not nothing but they're less important. And so that's amazing that you've stuck to this one thing that's just so critical.
Kirk: Yeah. And now that I've sort of been in the health and wellness sphere of influencers for a while, I still notice this trend. And not just as much now. I'd say in the last 18 months a lot of people are picking up their pace on talking about sleep. I think it's pretty fair to say -- I mean, you could subdivide some things, whatever. I think it's pretty fair my approach to health which is similar to a lot of other people's approach, sort of four pillars of health. There's sleep, there's nutrition, there's exercise and then there's some sort of stress mitigation or [0:17:18] [Indiscernible] control or spirituality or whatever you want to call that pillar, but whatever sort of allows you to balance your some other area, your autonomic nervous system. And there just wasn't a lot of buzz about sleep. Sleep was just kind of -- Yeah, it's in there. Make sure you get good sleep.
Christopher: It's not sexy, is it? No one wants to hear about it.
Kirk: It is not.
Christopher: They're like, "Give me a pill I could take or something else other than that."
Kirk: Yeah. And I can't imagine why it's not sexy. I think it should be telling people to sleep more should be as easy as selling sex. Because you'd be like saying, "Oh, you need to have more sex." They'd be like, "All right, Doc."
Christopher: Fantastic, right.
Kirk: But if I say you need more sleep, they go, "Oh no, I can't do that. I don't have the time to do that."
Christopher: Yeah. I think what's really going on there is they can't do it. And it's the most frustrating thing in the world. I've been there and I thought the same. I thought, well, it must be that I'm a Cat 1 cyclist and I'm doing too much exercise and I'm trying to upgrade to pro and that's why I can't sleep. That's why this is happening to me. And the doctor seemed to agree with me. He was like, "Here's some Ambien. Here's some [0:18:32] [Indiscernible]." None of those things worked for me.
I mean, it's the most dreadful thing I think I've ever experienced, waking up at 2 o'clock in the morning and being ready to go for the next day and you're like, "Oh. Tomorrow is just going to be hell." Because you know that around lunch time you're just going to crash so hard. Sleeping through the night -- I have a two-year old daughter so it's slightly challenging. But going to sleep and then waking up for the first time and it being the morning, like the sun is rising is the most amazing experience.
Christopher: Everything you just told me about health and free testosterone, everything else, I think it's probably time we started talking about how you're doing this for people. So, where do you even start when you got a SEAL that comes in or anyone that doesn't know anything about this term that people use as sleep hygiene and maybe there's some other things too? So, where do you start with people?
Kirk: When I first started with the SEAL teams, as I said, I knew kind of nothing about this kind of area of medicine of non-disease and what's commonly referred to as health optimization. And I don't know who coined that term but I think it was me.
Christopher: I think I've quoted you several times in interviews and podcasts.
Kirk: I can't be 100% sure but I think I came up with that. Health optimization is the idea that you don't have to be broke and to get better.
It's like we're looking for maximum health and performance. That's a completely different wheelhouse of knowledge than 'let's diagnose and treat your disease' or even disease mitigation probably doesn't directly fall into this health optimization field. So, what I'm looking at health optimization, really my goal is, of course, number one, is that I want the patient to recognize that they're feeling, looking, feeling and performing better. If that's not happening, doesn't matter what labs or test I do. I can say you're getting better all you want to but if they don't feel like they're getting better then I'm kind of out of a job. And, of course, I wouldn't feel satisfied anyways.
So, my primary metric are around those aspects of the patient. What I do now is private consulting. What I did with the SEAL teams, I didn't know anything about anything. So, the first doctor that I trained under is a guy named Ed Lichten, who's a brilliant, brilliant guy. He's been doing bio-identical hormone replacement therapy for 50 years, well before anybody thought this is a normal thing to do. He was one of the first guys I talked to and I just followed his panel.
He said, he went through line by line with me and just told me this is where I get this and this is where I get this and this is where I get this. I'm like, "Okay, good. I'm going to do that." But it's literally something like 98 lab markers which for most people, your insurance isn't going to pay for all of that because there's not enough care. That's one of the frustrations of being in health optimization. If I can't say you have a disease then very little is going to get paid for by your insurance company which makes it really expensive to work with me because I can't -- I mean, I can't lie and say this guy all these diseases and that's why I'm ordering all these labs.
So, when you order these labs without the right codes, without the supporting codes and they just say, "No, we're not going to pay for that." And then they end up paying for it. In the military, it wasn't a problem. Technically, it wasn't a problem for the SEALs to get their labs. It became a problem for me when the hospital got all enraged about me ordering $3000 lab sets on 300 to 400 people monthly.
I started off kind of doing everything, just looking at everything. Now, when I do my labs, I primarily focus on the few nutritional markers that you can get which are really just kind of trace elements and those types of things that you can get. I look for inflammatory markers. I look for insulin sensitivity. I look for AM cortisol. If that's super low or super high, I usually go to an ASI. And then I look at hormones and the precursors to hormones.
And so when I look at -- For example, if we're doing males, which I practice on more males than females, but if you're doing males, you just don't get total testosterone, which is what a lot of people do. And you don't even just get free testosterone because that still isn't tied to the whole picture. So, I get DHEA, not DHEA sulfate but DHEA and then you get testosterone and then you get free testosterone, then you get bioavailable testosterone and then you get sex hormone binding globulin and then you get estradiol and you kind of put all this together. And there's a way to combine all of those labs to get something that's called a free androgen index which really tells you -- It's been used in women for years.
It was considered invalid on men because men don't have high enough estrogen levels. But that was back in 1950. Now men have high enough estrogen levels for it to be valid unfortunately. So I tried to find their free androgen index. Of course, I look at thyroid panels on everybody. And like I said, if I suspect some adrenal fatigue stuff then I'll go on that rabbit hole and start doing some more of those tests which are largely salivary and urine tests.
Then, of course, the other big part is to interview the patient and find out how they're living, what their lifestyle is. And the way I approach my private clients now is there's four quarters to the year. The first quarter, at least the first quarter is 100% lifestyle modification. We're going to idealize your sleep. We're going to idealize your nutrition. We're going to idealize your exercise and we're going to idealize your stress mitigation. Of course, you're going to continue to work on those things throughout the whole year.
And then in some clients, that's actually kind of common, some clients will actually need two quarters to get that depending on how much weight they had to lose or what their nutritional status started like, what their diet started like, what their sleep starts like. And then usually Q3, I'll start looking at adding supplementation, whatever supplements we need at that point possibly hormones or prohormones. And then Q4 is kind of where we've done everything we can let's see how you're looking in Q4.
We've done everything we could without sort of strict pharma, like pharmacological interventions. But if there's still a few things that are just so far out of balance that we need a pharmaceutical then we put that in Q4. But my whole approach to this is that until you've idealized the lifestyle it's irresponsible to be making diagnosis that people need any type of pill. Somebody comes into my office and I've never seen this person before and they come in my office and tell me they have erectile dysfunction, what the American Medical Association tells me is that I should give them Viagra.
But I don't think he has a Viagra deficiency. That's not the first thing that comes to my mind. It's like, all right, well let's talk about your life. Let's talk about how you're eating. Let's talk about how you're exercising. Let's talk about how you're sleeping. Let's get through all of that before we put you on a pharmaceutical that you have to somehow figure out a way to take an hour before you have sex.
Christopher: I've been there. Because no doubt the problem that's causing your erectile dysfunction is also causing your other problems.
Kirk: Of course, yeah.
Christopher: Especially with men. That's one of the few things they will complain about.
Kirk: Yeah. And I can tell you I've never had anybody come in with erectile dysfunction or just a lower sex drive or lower libido as they say in medicine--
Christopher: As the only symptom.
Kirk: Yeah, as the only symptom. I've never seen that. I've never seen somebody come in and said, "Everything is perfect except this little guy won't pop up."
Christopher: Of course.
Kirk: That just doesn't happen.
Christopher: And that's amazing to me. I mean, everybody knows you for the Sleep Cocktails supplement. And one of the reasons I wanted to get you on the show is because I've just heard. I'm not affiliated with this company in any way. I don't have any discount code for you or anything like that. But I've had many people email me and say, "Do you know about Sleep Cocktails? It works fantastic." I've had at least ten people say that to me in the last couple of months.
It's really remarkable to me to hear you say that that's not where you start. As an outsider that know nothing about you, if you just go onto that website and look at that product and say, well, this is probably a doctor that's making money selling this stuff and he probably gives it to everybody that he sees as his first course of intervention. And clearly that's not the case.
Kirk: Right. Especially sort of the Paleo community. But just sort of the health and wellness field and maybe even just the general population. It's always been really amazing to me that people like me, if I'm a physician I'm not supposed to make money for helping people. People have a big problem with somebody making money for helping people. I don't know where that comes from. We don't have any problem if somebody is making money not helping people. But if you're helping people you're supposed to be doing it because you want to help them and money be damned. You should be living in a cardboard box and treating people, wherever that comes from.
So, I got a lot of sort of snarky comments when we first launched this product. I would just point out to everybody. I'd be like, "You obviously have not read anything I've ever written, gone to my site or listen to any of my podcast." Because what I always tell people is that this is a supplement. Supplement means that you're supplementing an area that you can't get through. And they're ideal. They're ideal. And we all probably most of us know what is ideal.
But then there's reality. Like you have a two-year old daughter. So if I say you need to sleep eight hours every single night from this time to this time and wake up exactly the same time and never breaks that cycle, you'd be like, "I have a two-year daughter." "Hell with your two-year old daughter, man. You've got to do this." That's not realistic. If your two-year old daughter wakes up, if you got to get up then you got to get up. When your two-year old daughter is sick and throwing up all night, you're not getting a good night. And then some people just aren't really in control of their schedules.
Some people work shift works. Some people work for slave driving companies that will tell you, "You got to be here at 6:00 a.m. and you need to leave here at 8:00 p.m." There's just not enough time in their life for them to get adequate sleep. And so that's where the supplement is for, that bridges the reality and ideal. If you can't quite get to ideal you take the supplement. The same thing is true for exercise. If you can't exercise ideally, maybe you always have to exercise when you're tired, that's when you take some sort of pre-workout thing that's going to maybe help you have a little more energy when you go.
A lot of those are ridiculous but that's just throwing out an example. And then nutritional supplements are the same thing. Not everybody has access to good food all the time and they need to take supplements. They need to supplement their diet. That's what it's meant for.
Christopher: Yeah, absolutely. I just interviewed the director of research and development at Thorne Supplements. You probably know him. And he said it's the perfect word. "Supplement is the perfect word. I'm a naturopathic doctor, supplements are exactly that, supplemental." You start with the basic stuff first. What is the basic stuff? I really wanted to go through this with you. I mean, a lot of this I learned from you through the podcast. But then more recently, I discovered this rather interesting word which is zeitgeber.
Zeitgeber is an environmental cue that entrains circadian rhythm. That word, and I'll put it in the show notes, the spelling of it, so you can find it. I find it like a keyword. Sometimes you find this in medical stuff. You find this keyword that just unlocks all of this information that you need. So, if you type in sleep into Google, I have no idea what you're going to find. Like all sorts of crap. Whereas, if you type this word zeitgeber into Google, you're going to find all these useful information about what entrains your circadian rhythm and what could help you get better sleep. So, I was wondering whether we could maybe run through some of the ones that you think about when you're working with someone.
Kirk: Yeah. And zeitgeber also refers to ultradian rhythm which in this sort of simplified way just basically means it's the other rhythms of your body. So, we talk a lot about circadian rhythms and we'll get into that in just a second. Circadian rhythms are important around sleep and lots of physiological functions. And there's a master clock in your brain that people have heard of, the suprachiasmatic nucleus.
Christopher: I'm glad you said that.
Kirk: So, there's this master clock in there, this master little bundle of neurons. And that's entraining everything in your brain. And that's your circadian rhythm key. And so people think, okay, well, as long as I'm entraining my circadian rhythm everything is great. And there's all these little light devices you can put in your ears and your eyes. It's all sorts of little tricks to kind of help with that and we'll talk about some of those things.
What people really don't understand this idea of ultradian rhythm, every single cell in your body has a biological clock, like every single cell in your body has a biological clock. So, if your circadian rhythm is out of touch, it's completely out of sync with the rest of the cells in your body, sleep doesn't do the same thing for you that it would do otherwise. And your energy during the day won't be the same even if you've gotten great sleep.
And so that's kind of the connotation of zeitgeber in my mind is that we're talking about circadian and ultradian rhythms, which basically just means that your entire body is in sync with your environment. So, any environmental cue is part of your environment and it can play into this and that could be a stressor, that could be light, that could be what you eat, that could be illness. I mean, just kind of anything. Tell me what your question is again. I lost that.
Christopher: Yeah. It was a roundabout sort of question. So, I just wanted to run through. Tell you what, I'll read it to you. I have this checklist here. And what I've been doing -- This is something new that I just started last week and I talked about it on the podcast a couple of weeks ago. It's this idea of an Agile software development methodology. It sounds like I'm getting you a bit off track here. But I promise you this will makes sense.
So, this method of project management, it has something called Scrum which is where you would meet a person and sort of lock heads and decide what's the most important thing for them to get done. And then a sprint period. So what I'll do is I'll get a deadline with someone, say two weeks time, and then I'll create this board. It's called a kanban board. So basically, if you could just visualize a white board with four columns -- to-do, doing, review and done -- and then I throw these cards with instructions up onto their board and then they've got two weeks to get those things done.
So, I'm looking at my sleep board right now and I've got things like go to bed by 10:00 p.m., install f.lux and Night ShiftI believe it's called in IOS now is advised that cuts out the blue light from the screen.
Christopher: Set overnight temperature to 65 degrees. Move electric devices from the bedroom. Install block out curtains. Train earlier in the day. Eat earlier in the day. These are all zeitgebers. Socialize early during the day. No TVs. Install new light bulbs, ones which are orange. Maybe buy some blue blocking glasses perhaps. And so I'll just do this Scrum with people and then I won't choose all of those things. Not all of them will be relevant. And then I'll throw them up into someone's board and I'll say, "Okay, I'm going to talk to you again in two weeks time and I'm expecting you to have all of these things done by that period."
And so there's some degree of accountability. And my hope is that people will get more of these things done. Because I talk to people and they're not doing it. You talk to people and they've got their very best diet, they've got a meditation practice, they're paying someone a lot of money for a training plan, but they're still not really doing the basic sleep hygiene stuff. So, they're not sleeping as well as they should.
Kirk: Yeah, okay. I'm with you. By the way, I would love whatever article or information you have on that management system you're just talking about. That's really cool. I could think that way. I'm actually not a very organized thinker, which is why I [0:36:15] [Indiscernible] and then I forgot the question. Here's how I try to train people on their circadian rhythm aspect of sleep.
Everybody has probably heard this term sleep hygiene but it's kind of a nebulous term. I mean, even the word hygiene is nebulous. Okay, that's like shower, deodorant, maybe brushing your teeth. What else is hygiene? You could go on and on and on. Usually, well, that's obviously washing your clothes, changing your sheets every weekend, it's me having a proper hair cut. You could just go on and on and on what is hygiene.
And so I don't try to give exhaustive list of here are all the things you need to do. And everything that you listed off on your board are all things to do. They're all things that should be done. But I feel that if I teach somebody conceptually what sleep hygiene is meant to do and the reason we're doing all of these things, people can figure out all sorts of clever tricks that I would have never thought of.
Christopher: So, you're teaching yourself out of the job basically.
Kirk: Yeah, exactly. I teach them the concepts and then they come back and say, "Well, I handled this by doing that." And I'm like, "That's really cool. Can I tell other people that I came up with that?" And they're like no. And all right, well, I'll give you credit for it. So, it is basically what we're talking about when we're talking about circadian rhythm. So, step back a thousand years, even a couple hundred years. Let's be extreme and say, okay, we'll go back a thousand, two thousand years whatever, definitely before industrialization and before rural electrification.
People use the sun as their cue for when to be asleep and their cue for when to be awake. Currently, every other animal in the planet still does that except us. We're the only ones and, I guess, perhaps our pets. But we're the only animals that have kind of gotten away from that and a lot of it has to do with the rural electrification and everybody having lighting. Also though a lot of it has to do, a lot of it had to do with industrialization.
Because with industrialization, for the first time in human history, time became money. And there was like -- I make eight cents an hour and if I can sleep two less hours and get to the factory and do these shifts or if I can work a double shift so much the better, whatever. I'll make twice as much money. And that's kind of when time became money and sleep started becoming a disadvantage to feeding your family and clothing your kids and all that other stuff.
And so people started looking at sleep as this quasi optional thing. And the attitude towards sleep is just as important as everything else that I'm going to talk about as far as sleep hygiene. So, what I tell everyone is that the very first step in sleep hygiene is valuing sleep. And if you don't value sleep, don't start to sleep hygiene, the rest of the sleep hygiene stuff yet, right? Get on the internet, listen to some more podcasts, do your own research, read some books. Value sleep first. That's the key.
And once you value sleep you'll be able to figure out how to do all this stuff on your own once I give you these concepts. And it will include all these little gadgets and markers and things that you can do to block the light and so on and so forth.
So, we evolved to use the sun as our cue and the way that works is a pretty simplistic system to explain, some very complex system when you start mapping it out and tracing all of the neurotransmitters and the stuff involved. But as the sun goes down the blue light drops out of the sky and we have these ganglion in the back of our eyes that have absolutely nothing to do with vision. All they do is sense blue light.
And when blue light decreases, they send the signal down this pathway in our brain that ultimately ends up stimulating something called the pineal gland and the pineal gland secretes melatonin. And then melatonin helps drive down stress hormones and adrenal function. And our adrenals, if people don't know in your show, are these two little organs that sit on top of our kidneys and they keep us awake and alert in proportion to our environment. This is where all the stress hormones come from.
They're called adrenals because they secrete adrenaline. They also secrete cortisol which most people have heard of and DHEA. And then they secrete a hormone that controls our blood pressure to some degree and all of that stuff that's super relevant. But adrenals essentially keep us awake so we kind of need to shut this down. So, the blue light goes out. Part of that stimulation pathway getting to the pineal gland is the suprachiasmatic nucleus I was talking about which is the master clock of the circadian rhythm.
So you have melatonin shutting down stress hormones and adrenal functions. That's doing a lot to sort of, the base of the brain and the brain stem. But it's also getting out onto your blood stream and having other effects on your body. But when the suprachiasmatic nucleus gets register that the sun is going down, it starts making thousands of changes in your brain and the chemicals that modulate your brain's activity.
Basically, and this is super basic, and if there's a neurophysiologist listening, I apologize. Basically, you have what we call wake promoting neurotransmitters and then you have sleep promoting neurotransmitters. So, once the suprachiasmatic nucleus is stimulated it starts decreasing the number of wake promoting neurotransmitters by signaling various regions of the brain. And it starts increasing the sleep promoting the neurotransmitters by stimulating various regions of the brain.
And that is the vast majority of the circadian rhythm. That's probably 80% of it. The other 20% of it, when you think about a human brain, every picture you've ever seen of the human brain, the sort of big -- it's usually shown as kind of pinkish color but it's sort of grayish white really. But it has all this [0:43:03] [Indiscernible] and all these little bends and crevices and all that. And what people think of when they think of a human brain. That is what we call a neocortex.
And the neocortex is the part of our brain that allows us to interact with the environment. So, one of the things that the suprachiasmatic nucleus does is stimulate areas of the brain that secrete a neurotransmitter, neuropeptide called GABA. That's gamma-aminobutyric acid, for those who care. It's always abbreviated GABA. What GABA does is slow down that neocortex. It does what we call lowering the resting potential or increasing the action potential, either way. So it takes more energy to fire the neurons and that neocortex.
What I mean by that is that your neocortex is reacting to not only the light around you but any type of stimulation around you, noises around you, visually stimulating things like members of the opposite sex. And that's why you can feel completely exhausted. You can probably identify this. Most people can identify with this. You've had days where you've woken up completely exhausted, you got a terrible night of sleep but you have to go to work. And then all you're thinking about while you're getting ready for work and getting to work is as soon as I leave work I'm coming home, I'm going to sleep.
Christopher: I used to think about sleeping underneath my desk at lunch time. I'm thinking if I can just make into work then I could have some lunch and then have a little nap underneath my desk I'll be fine.
Kirk: Exactly. This is super, super common. So, people spend their whole work day going, "Man, as soon as I get home, I'm going to bed." Especially single people. If you don't have kids it's much easier to do this.
And then one of your friends comes by and ribs you into going out to get a beer or you're going out to happy hour. You don't really want to but it's a super compelling friend and they've got a great pitch and so you go. "Okay, I'll go. I'm going to have one or two beers max and then I'm going home and I'm going to bed." And then five hours later you're still out at this restaurant with happy hour bar whatever it is. And the reason for that is that you overrode that GABA in your brain and your neocortex is fully functional. And so everything around you that's stimulating you is overriding all that exhaustion in your brain.
So, the point of that is that all sleep hygiene is, is trying to as best you can simulate that light going down in your eyes and decreasing them out of stimulation going into your neocortex. That's it. Every little trick you've heard of, I would say one exception what you talked about is the cold room. The cool room is really just meant to ensure that your body temperature lowers because there's some other things that go on with your body temperature being low and that's one of the cues for falling asleep.
And actually lower and lower and lower throughout the night. Usually, ancestrally, we would wake up. It's sort of our nadir of body temperate. That's slightly off the topic of everything else. But the rest of it, everything you talked about, wearing blue blocking glasses, that's because of the blue light. Putting f.lux on your computer, putting the program on your iPhone and getting rid of electronics in your room. Everything that could possibly stimulate you should not be in your room.
Your bed and your bedroom should be for sleep and sex only. I always have to clarify that because I get all sorts of hate mail about it. I didn't say you can't have sex elsewhere. All I said is that your bedroom is for sleep and sex only. That's all you do in there. And as long as that's all you do in there, that's part of virtualization. You don't watch television in there. You don't check your iPhone. You don't watch your television.
Why? Not only are you putting light in your eyes but you're stimulating yourself awake. You're overriding that GABAergic neocortex shutdown. And it's really that simple. And for blocking out your room, it's just another way to be in an entrainment with the sun.
Christopher: Yeah, I know that makes perfect sense. I kind of think of it like a dead man's handle in train. You got a driver in a train and he has to hold on to that handle so the train is going to stop.
Kirk: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Christopher: You've never heard of that. Imagine a lever in a train, like you're driving a train. And you have to keep your hand on that lever else the train is going to stop. So, if you remove the stimulus, the guy falls down, you've got a dead man. And then the lever just goes into the stop position, the train stops. It's almost like your brain is just going to continually keep going as long as you provide that stimulus which is the man holding, the driver holding the handle. And then all you need to do is let go and it will, the train will come to a stop.
Kirk: That's a great metaphor. I'm going to steal that from you. I'll give you credit for it. That is a great metaphor.
Christopher: Thank you.
Kirk: I've never even heard of that. I've never driven a train so maybe that's why.
Christopher: I can't say I have. It's just that I don't know how I know about that. But let me ask you this. Do you think it's possible to survive a modern environment? Because when I figured out all these things out, because some of them are vicious cycles, right? So, the reason I was still listening to podcast in bed and the reason I still had a TV in my bedroom was because I sucked at sleeping and it was boring and really hateful and watching TV in bed at night made the experience less painful. And it was only once I broke those vicious cycle was I able to get proper sleep.
And now when I look around people's homes, I'm like, well, they're just designed to fail. There's no way. You open the refrigerator -- I've just bought a new refrigerator and it has three 200 watt halogen spotlights inside it. It's just ridiculous. If you make the mistake of opening the refrigerator for any reason after 8:00 p.m. then you're going to get a big blast of -- And, of course, there's numerous examples of this in our modern environment. So, what do you think? Is it survivable now? Is like everybody doomed to insomnia?
Kirk: Yeah. I mean, I think it is survivable. I mean, my wife and I do it really well. My clients eventually do it really well. And as I said, they come up with clever ideas that I start implementing and teaching other clients. It's not a simple thing.
And this is slightly different than sleep hygiene because this has to do with the other pillar of health, the stress mitigation part that I was talking about, which can also be spirituality or religion or whatever you kind of want to make that, whatever allows you to sort of take the weight of the world off your shoulders and transfer it onto something else.
Most people who say I have to have a television to fall asleep or some people even who say they have to read to get asleep, the reason that they need to do that is because is because they have to distract themselves because if they don't distract themselves their minds will go racing. And I think the biggest problem is not all of the constant external stimulation but the constant internal stimulation and the constant denial of that.
And what we do as a culture now is that we are constantly distracting ourselves. We're always on the go and being always on the go, I mean, responding to every text as soon as it comes in because surely that's the most important thing of your life is to get back to that text about essentially nothing. And that's why people are texting when they're driving. I mean, how insane is that? I mean, I'll be honest. I'm guilty. I've done that a few times. But I remember the first time I saw one of my friends texting while he was driving, I was like, "Are you freaking insane? Like how could you possibly drive and do that?"
And now it's just kind of a common problem. We've stimulated ourselves and we've gotten ourselves so wrapped around the axle about being productive and being responsive and now you just think about how like pissed off of people if they can't get in touch with you every second. It's like, "I called that guy three minutes ago and he still hasn't called me back." And so our world is so wound up like that.
And what that leads to is this constant external stimulation. And then people are really uncomfortable with their own thoughts. So, once everything goes away and there is no more external stimulation, a lot of people get really freaked out. And I don't mean this to be sexist at all but women by and large really more than men start thinking about all the potential things that could go wrong or every mistake that they made in the past.
Men do that to some extent, so it's not exclusively women, but when I talk to women, that's like their number one thing. It's like, "Oh, I'm about to go to sleep. Let me think of every mistake I've made in the past ten years first before I go to sleep."
Christopher: It's literally torture.
Kirk: Yeah. And they just start reliving stuffs that they have no control over. Men tend to do more like future stuff like, "I'm running my business. I need to talk to this guy and I got to do that. And if he says no, man, that's going to happen. And then he'll say this and then I'll say that." And then just they start living something that hasn't happened yet.
Either case, one of them is living in the past, one of them is living in the future, and the only way to live is to live in the present. That's the only way to ever be calm and relaxed. And so people have to get in the present and the present is going to sleep. I'll give you one major thing that I do for people who run into this problem who say, "I absolutely can't get rid of the electronics in my room. I have to read. I have to watch the television." Whatever.
I know this is about distracting them. 100% of the time it's about distracting themselves. There's nothing about television that causes you to go to sleep. I mean, that should be obvious to anyone. So, what I say is take a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle of the piece of paper. You can go get a notebook if you want because you're going to do this every night for a while. On the left hand side of the paper, put down, write down every single thing that you need to do the next day. That's to do list.
On the right side of the paper, write down everything you need to worry about. Even if it's something you have no control over, which is most of the things people worry about, put it on your list because you want to make sure you don't forget to worry about it. And then the second part of that is like, okay, I have this list now, it's 100% complete, and literally -- I give people permission to do this -- if you lay down and you think about something that you forgot to put on your list, get back up, turn on the light if you need to and write down that other thing. Everything needs to be on the list.
And then what you do is you make yourself an agreement that I know no matter how terrible this list looks, how intimidating this list is, I know as a matter of fact the best I will ever be at handling this list is after I've had a really good night sleep, full night of sleep. And my alarm clock is set for the latest time I can possibly get up or whatever amount, whatever it is that will be give me eight hours in bed.
My alarm is set for that. It doesn't matter what happens in the middle of the night. I'm not getting out of bed until the alarm clock goes off. And if you make yourself that agreement and then as soon as these thoughts pop up in your head, you go, "That's on the list, I'm not going to think about that. That's on the list, I'm not going to think about that."
And then if you wake up in the middle of the night -- and I always bust my patients on this because I teach them all this sort of day one and they'll say, "I woke up at 2:30, 3:30, 4:30." And I'm like how do you know you wake up at 2:30? Because you're not supposed to be looking at your clock. If you don't look at the clock you greatly increase your odds of going back to sleep really quickly. Because as soon as you look at your clock you start doing mental math. You start doing mental stimulation of, "Okay, it's 4:30 right now, I need to get up at 6:30 or I need to get up at 7:30, whatever it is, so if I can get back to sleep in the next 38 minutes I'll be able to get this much more sleep and then I could skip the gym."
You start doing all these crazy little things in your mind and you start stimulating that neocortex. You start using that part of your brain that should be very relaxed. So, you don't look at the clock. You realize that, hey, you know what, sometimes people wake up in the middle of the night. Big freaking deal. I'm going to lay here and I'm going to breathe. I'm going to relax. I'm going to do progressive muscle relaxation. I'm going to do whatever it is that kind of relaxes me. I'm going to think about something pleasant. I'm going to close my eyes and look for colors.
Whatever it is that kind of close you out, just lay there and say, "I'm going to do this until my alarm clock goes off." And if you had your room set up correctly and you haven't looked at your clock, you don't have any idea when that alarm clock is going to go off. It could be going off in 15 minutes. It might not go off for four hours. If it's not go off for four hours, you're going to fall back asleep because you're not trying to fall back asleep. But if your alarm clock goes off 15 minutes later and you didn't go back to sleep, big deal. It's like I got 15 minutes of relaxation, 15 minutes less sleep, you're still going to feel pretty good. That's just the way it goes.
Christopher: I know we're kind of getting long on time here but I have some -- Could I do some rapid fire questions with you?
Kirk: Yeah, sure.
Christopher: Okay. So Sleep Cocktails is the supplement that everybody's been raving about and one of the ingredients is vitamin D. But do you think it's a good idea? So, given what we've just talked about with circadian rhythm, do you think it's a good idea to take vitamin D at night? Obviously, you do.
Kirk: Yeah. So, I've actually had that question a million times and people that have just been vile with me about taking vitamin D at night. So, vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. It's not vitamin at all. It's a hormone. Of course, it's usually produced in your skin during sunlight hours. But it doesn't have anything to do with stimulating you awake. That's sort of people's argument is that there's something going on in your skin while you're converting vitamin D2 to vitamin D3 that's promoting wakefulness.
There's no evidence of that. I've told everybody -- I always reserve the right to be wrong but I've told everybody if you can find some articles or if you can find some proof or mechanism that makes this true or that suggests this is true, I'm happy to look at. But I've dug deeply in it and what a lot of people don't know this Sleep Cocktails and the only reason this is named as the Sleep Cocktails is because that's what SEALs named it. They named it that because I started with vitamin D3 and then I added magnesium and then I added tryptophan and then I added 5-HTP and then I added a little melatonin. I just kept adding things as I understood more about sleep.
And they just started calling it the Parsley Cocktail, which apparently is like the worst marketing name in the history of the world. So, we're changing the name of it. What a lot of people don't realize is that back in -- There are SEALs now who have been taking this Cocktail for seven years. And 100% of the SEALs who were my patients who came to me on Ambien, many of them were just frankly addicted to Ambien. 100% of them have gone off of prescription sleep aids all together.
Christopher: The proof is in the pudding.
Kirk: Yeah, the proof is in the pudding.
Christopher: But let me ask you this. So why no K2? We hear lots of people talking about the importance of vitamin K2 and it's synergy with vitamin D? Why no K2 in Sleep Cocktails?
Kirk: I would probably add K2 to the new formulation whenever I'd do the new formulation. I didn't know anything about it when I developed this at that time. I don't think it's essential but I think, as you say, it's definitely a progenitor. I mean, it definitely improves the pathway. Whether or not it improves the melatonin pathway, I don't know but it makes sense, why not do it?
But, yeah, it's partially that I didn't know anything about it at that time and so what I reproduced for -- Like I said, literally, the only reason that I ever got into this and I tried to work with other supplement companies to do this for me because I never wanted to run a supplement company. I just couldn't find anybody that I trusted to work with so I ended up doing this.
And I just did the original formula. I just took what I originally did with the SEALs. My private clients, I add quite a few things to the formulation because there's -- I've had whatever, like seven more years of experience since I came up with this and I've learned more about it. But our product is a very expensive product to produce already. So there's some limitations in there because I don't think people are going to pay $100 a month or something for this product.
Christopher: I'd pay $100 a month for sleep. If I thought it's going to make a difference to myself, I mean, it's nothing. I pay $100 a month to Comcast.
Kirk: Yeah, yeah, that's true.
Christopher: How beneficial are naps?
Kirk: Naps are nature's elixir. So, naps, I recommend to everyone to take naps even if you sleep perfectly. I take a nap every single day and I have for years and years and years. But definitely if you sleep sub-optimally, which means either you don't get great quality sleep or you don't get quite enough sleep, a nap is probably the best mitigation tool. But for what I do and for what you do and for what a lot of people do, we're in a super, super informationally dense age where we're completely overwhelmed by information.
The beauty of a nap is that you can consolidate memories in a nap and you can form what's called durable track memories which means that it's going from your working memory to short term memory into your long term memory. And this is true for physical exercise, physical muscle memory like riding a bicycle or doing jiu-jitsu or boxing, playing the piano, whatever that requires some sort of physical movement to be memorized and to become sort of automated.
Naps will give you the same benefit as going to sleep that night. And what most people don't realize is that the only time you learn anything like truly learn anything is while you're asleep. So, if I taught somebody something and then I didn't let them sleep for two or three days in a row and then I tested them on it, apart from just being completely fatigued, they just wouldn't remember anything because it had never been shifted in.
We're assuming that there's other things to do in their lives. But the really interesting thing about naps -- And here we're just talking about a short nap which most people can handle, something between a 20-minute nap and a 45-minute nap. Anything kind of in that range will provide its benefits. What research has shown -- There's a great book actually called Take a Nap. It's written by a woman named Sara Mednick who's a Ph.D. She's a Ph.D. at my alma mater in fact at UC San Diego.
What her research showed -- and there's really great research in there about caffeine and all sorts of neat stuff, for geeks like me at least it's really neat. But I you teach somebody a skill in the morning, physical or mental, it doesn't matter, if you teach somebody a skill in the morning, let's say 8 o'clock in the morning, from 8:00 to 9:00 they train, and then you say come back at 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. and we're going to test you.
Now, the peak of their performance is going to be at the end of that training block in the morning. So, at 9:00 a.m., once they've trained for an hour, that's going to be when they know the most. If they come back and test later on in the evening, they're going to do worse than they ended that morning session at. If they take a nap in between there, they actually do better than they left that morning at.
And then you could actually do another training session at night and then get a full night sleep and then you'll come back the next day even better. So you essentially double your learning speed without doing any extra effort. And so I've worked with a lot of MMA fighters. And so when they're getting ready for a fight, a lot of times they're going against somebody who has some sort of really high end skill that's hard for them to work against because it's not their skill set. And so they'll just super focus on this one aspect of sort of their game so to speak.
And most of them do two-day trainings. And so I tell these people train in the morning and then take an hour and a half nap in the middle of the day and then train again at night and then you're going to learn that skill twice as fast. Now, the reason I tell them to sleep an hour and a half is because they'll actually get into, they'll actually do a full sleep cycle and so they'll do some of the repair that happens to our bodies when we sleep.
One of the things that happens during deep sleep or slow-wave sleep cycle is when we secrete testosterone and growth hormone and decrease inflammation. I mean really, our immune system is functioning at its highest and we're fighting off disease, we're fighting off infections, bacterial and viral and parasites and so forth but we're also repairing whatever we've overused in our body, whatever we've trained. So, we're repairing muscles, we're repairing tendons, we're repairing ligaments, and all that's happening during deep sleep.
So, they get a little bit of repair when they take that long nap in the middle of the day. But then they also get the benefit of accelerated learning when they come back to the evening session they're going to be better than they left that morning session at.
Christopher: That's interesting. That segues nicely into my next question which is: Do you know if there's an ideal amount of time to spend in each stage of sleep? Like if you somehow have the ability to measure that, do you think there's any target or is it just entirely individual?
Kirk: I would say there's an average but I don't think that that would correlate with ideal. One of the things that we have to oversimplify is to say that the ideal amount of sleep is seven and a half hours plus or minus half an hour depending on variables. The truth of the matter is if you use your body a lot, if you train really hard physically, you produce, you break down ATP to ADP to AMP to eventually just adenosine. And adenosine causes sleep pressure.
And then adenosine causes sleep pressure which pushes you into deep sleep much faster and extends the amount of time that you're in deep sleep. And for the reasons that I just talked about, because that's when your body is sort of repairing yourself. And then you come back up to REM sleep. And the way the normal or average -- I hate to use the word normal but sort of the way the average hypnograpm works is you spend the first half of your night predominantly in slow-wave sleep or deep sleep and you spend the second half of your sleep in predominantly REM sleep with less and less.
So, the first sleep cycle has a ton of slow-wave sleep, a tiny bit of REM. The next one has a little less deep sleep, a little more REM and then that progresses throughout the night to where your deep sleep sessions end up being only like 15 minutes or something or 20 minutes by the time you're waking up. And that's one of the reasons that when people take my Sleep Cocktails or if they just getting better sleep they'll say, "Oh, I'm dreaming so much more. My dreams are so much more vivid."
It's just because they're sleeping well enough and long enough to actually get into a substantial amount of REM sleep and they're more likely to wake up during REM sleep and that's the dreams you remember and there's the emotion of the dreams. So, I don't think there's an ideal but I do think that that pattern needs to exist. So, I mean if you don't use your body a whole lot, you're probably going to need more REM sleep because that's more sort of neurological repair and neurological categorization of things you've learned and emotional events and all that type of stuff. It is more happening in REM.
So, if you're super cognitively active but not very physically active, you probably going to have more REM sleep than somebody who is the opposite of that. But as long as that pattern exists, predominantly deep in the beginning and predominantly REM in the second half of the night, that's as far as I go with that.
Christopher: That's awesome. Thank you. And I just got one final question, which is: Do you think it's possible to have too much sleep? I know there was some epidemiological data floating around a while back that showed a correlation with sleep and high-sensitivity CRP, which is an inflammatory marker. And it kind of hinted at the idea that people who sleep longer have more inflammation. But whether that's supposal or not is still debatable. I wonder if you had any thoughts on that. Can you have too much sleep?
Kirk: Yeah. So, my thought on that is that people who have really high CRP are usually fairly unhealthy people. And so they need a lot more sleep because they feel tired all the time. So, I think they've kind of got that inverted. What I usually tell people is that when you've sort of been the most healthiest and least stressed in your life, if you look probably not around puberty because during that period you tend to sleep a lot more and be tired a lot more, but if you look at your life history, if you've always kind of -- I'm actually a nine hour a night guy. That's ridiculous to a lot of people. Like how can you possibly get anything done sleeping nine hours a night? I don't know. But I've done it. I've done actually quite a few pretty big things doing that. It can be done.
If there's a sudden change in how much you need to sleep, say like if you've always been a seven and a half kind of guy and at 35 with no sort of really obvious cause you all of a sudden become have to have ten hours, there's probably something wrong there. But I think it's the tail wagging the dog in that research. I really think there's some sort of physiological problem that's making you sleep more. And that disease process or physiological process is manifesting itself as more sleep and more inflammation. It's pretty much, I mean, just about every -- just about every kind of disease imaginable increases, inflammatory markers. So that's my take on that study and all the other ones that are similar to that.
Christopher: Yeah, I know that makes a lot of sense to me. Well, thank you so much. I'm so grateful to have you for this interview and to have this as a resource to point people at. I'm sure a lot of people listening to this will have enjoyed this. So, where can people go to find out more about you and your work and Sleep Cocktails?
Kirk: Unfortunately, my website is abysmal right now primarily because I launched it and then I launched it fully and expecting like I was going to put my time into educational and informational products and blogging and probably doing a podcast and all those other stuff. And then I ended up having to start this damned supplement company which has been like the bane of my existence for the last 18 months. And I'm really looking forward to handing that off.
But my URL isn't going to change. I'm re-launching the site. It's actually going to have a lot more information than it has right now but there's a fair amount of information on there now as far as me and my philosophy on medicine, some tips and tricks and questions about sleep. There's a lot of links to podcasts I've done and I think some of the guest blogs I've done and things like that. And that's at docparsley.com.
If you want to learn about the sleep product itself, that's at sleepcocktails.com, which in about four weeks the new website will launch and it's going to have literally ten times, probably 20 times the amount of information that it has right now, which has been produced for years. I have 100 blogs that I've posted on all sorts of venues other than my own website. And sleep cocktails will eventually be embedded actually into the Doc Parsley site so it will just be kind of a one stop shop, just docparsley.com. I'll probably eventually do some endorsements of various products that I like as far as anything from like the blue blocking glasses to sleep--
Christopher: You're not going to get rich selling blue blocking glasses. They cost--
Kirk: No, no, no. Most of those things I'm talking about aren't going to be affiliations. They're just going to be -- I've evaluated these products and this is the one I like.
Christopher: Have you bought your patent yet of the ingredients of Sleep Cocktails being made public?
Kirk: The ingredients are public.
Christopher: Just not the amount, the quantities.
Kirk: The quantities. So, once I get the patent, I still can't release the quantities.
Christopher: Oh, okay. That's fair enough.
Kirk: That's part of the patent protect. Like Coca-Cola has never given their formulation away.
Christopher: Because, of course, you could just change it. You could change the quantity slightly, it's a different product. It doesn't apply.
Kirk: Yeah. If I say there's X amount of tryptophan and then somebody goes, "We're going to do X plus two," it's a totally different product now and it's not the same.
Christopher: Yeah, it's not fair.
Kirk: We're going to add lemon grass or something, and it's a totally different product. It is actually minimal protection for it but the main reason for the patent is the value of the product if it ever goes into acquisition or something like that. That's the primary mode. It's a long process. There's a lot of bickering and a lot of lawyers and a lot--
Christopher: I'm sorry.
Kirk: A lot of money going out to those types of things. But we probably have another six months or so, would be my guess, before we'll have the patent but my lawyers are really convinced that I'll be able to get one which is very, very rare for a supplement. But if I do get it, it will be primarily because of the way it was developed because it was developed piecemeal and working clinically and testing and following a lot of values to see if each ingredient was working or what concentration worked. So, it was really sort of -- I guess, to simplify it, you couldn't go open up a textbook on neurophysiology and figure out how much of each thing you need. Like there would be no way of knowing that.
Christopher: So, is your clinic -- I've heard this story before. When you buy one of the lab tests even, one of the advanced lab testing, then really what you're buying is the experience of the guy that developed the assay. It's not just about the -- Sure, you could figure out how to measure cortisol with mass spectrometry but like could you -- what would that number mean?
Christopher: It's really your experiences. It's what people are buying. I'm hoping they will make a purchase if they do have that less than optimal lifestyle just based on the value of their educational material like this that you've given to everyone which we're super grateful for.
Kirk: Yeah, thanks.
Christopher: Well, Dr. Kirk Parsley, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much for your time. This is a ton of really great information. I'm sure this is going to help people get some better sleep. If it did help you, please do share it with a friend.
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