How to Get Perfect Sleep with Dr. Kirk Parsley, MD

April 15, 2016

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” so the lyric goes. If you don’t sleep you will be dead sooner is more true to life:

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.

--Dr. Kirk Parsley, MD, sleep expert and advisor to the Navy SEALs.

Selling sleep should be like selling sex, so why is it so hard for people to do? Two reasons:

  1. Humans are the only animals with electricity, and we’ve used it to maximal effect for disrupting our normal circadian rhythms. It’s not that people won’t sleep, the problem is they can’t sleep.
  2. Time is money and shift working is a sad fact of life.

The main thing you must do to get better sleep is appreciate its importance. I want you to buy into the idea of sleep and strive for it as you would any other goal. The rest is relatively straightforward, and that’s what Kirk and I cover in this podcast interview.

Supraphysiological testosterone.

Dr. Tommy Wood and I are constantly exploring supplements that boost testosterone, it’s one of our most frequently asked questions. Hormone replacement is usually not an option because almost everything you can think of is on the WADA banned substance list. What about herbs like Tribulus? Well perhaps, but neither herbs or HRT have the power of adequate sleep, and so that’s where we always start.

During this interview, Dr. Kirk Parsley, a former Navy SEAL himself, tells the story of one officer that increased his free testosterone by 500% simply by getting off the sleep drugs like Ambien and getting proper sleep. Another 42-year old went supraphysiological (above normal levels) using sleep alone.

What supplement should you take for more testosterone?

Easy. Take a nap. Taking a nap is probably your best bet for enhanced recovery and learning too:

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.

Here’s the outline of this interview with Dr. Kirk Parsley

0:00:36    Kirk on Robb's podcast.

0:01:18    Robb and Kirk have attended multiple events together.

0:04:04    Like firefighters and pilots, SEALs are worried about losing their job.

0:04:57    Kirk was the SEAL confidant.

0:05:22    The SEALs can't be dependant on medicines or supplements.

0:05:41    Doctors learn how to classify and treat disease, not how to create health.

0:06:17    Normal symptoms (for an 80 year old).

0:07:02    As a physician to the SEALs, Kirk was able to get help from pretty much anyone.

0:07:56    9/11 happened and the SEALs started doing more work.

0:08:10    Now we have night vision.

0:08:22    Kirk investigated the idea of “adrenal fatigue”, had some success with treatment.

0:08:58    Ambien doesn’t help you get better sleep, it knocks you unconscious.

0:10:45    The SEALs kept asking for a supplement to save them the bother of shopping for individual supplements.

0:11:00    500% more free testosterone with better sleep!

0:11:11    No supplements, just sleep!

0:11:20    DHEA.

0:11:27    Zinc.

0:12:29    One 42 year old commanding officer developed supraphysiological testosterone by sleeping well.

0:12:53    Sleep decreases chronic inflammation and increases insulin sensitivity.

0:13:26    Kirk got out the military, started consulting.

0:13:59    This isn't just a SEAL problem.

0:15:45    Sleep improves everything.

0:16:28    Finding the most important thing is hard!

0:16:56    People are catching on.

0:17:15    The four pillars of health: Sleep, nutrition, movement, stress mitigation.

0:17:54    Sleep is not sexy.

0:19:39    Health optimisation to coin a phrase.

0:20:02    You don't have to be broken to get better.

0:21:10    Book: Textbook of Bio-Identical Hormones: Guiding Health in Uncertain Times by Edward Lichten, MD.

0:21:44    A protocol based on 98 lab markers.

0:21:57    If I can't say you have a disease, nothing is going to get covered by your insurance.

0:22:47    Trace elements, inflammation, AM cortisol.

0:23:12    Hormones and their precursors.

0:23:32    DHEA not sulfate.

0:23:56    Free androgen index.

0:24:11    In the 50s oestrogen wasn't high enough.

0:24:42    Kirk divides the year into quarters.

0:24:49    Q1 is lifestyle only.

0:25:28    No supplements until Q3.

0:25:56    No pharma until Q4.

0:26:08    Until you've idealized the lifestyle it's irresponsible to make any diagnosis.

0:26:20    Viagra for erectile dysfunction.

0:28:42    Somehow it's not ok to make money helping people.

0:29:28    Supplements are exactly that.

0:31:29    Zeitgeber.

0:32:04    Ultradian rhythm.

0:32:30    Suprachiasmatic nucleus.

0:33:10    Every single cell has a circadian clock.

0:34:14    Agile Health Coaching.

0:36:34    “Sleep hygiene” is a nebulous term.

0:37:23    Teaching yourself out of a job.

0:38:18    We used to use the sun.

0:38:26    Now we have electricity and time is money.

0:39:26    First step is value sleep.

0:40:22    Ganglion in the eye that do nothing except sense blue light/

0:40:38    Pineal gland.

0:40:42    Melatonin.

0:40:52    Adrenals keep us awake.

0:41:13    Aldosterone.

0:42:14    Wake and sleep promoting neurotransmitters.

0:42:33    That's 80% of circadian rhythm.

0:43:13    The neocortex allows us to interact with the environment.

0:43:35    GABA slows down the neocortex.

0:43:55    Altering the resting and or action potential of the neuron.

0:44:20    Feeling exhausted, having a second wind.

0:45:55    Sleep hygiene is simulating the light going away.

0:46:21    Body temp is a cue.

0:47:09    The bedroom is for sleep and sex only.

0:48:02    Dead man's handle metaphor.

0:49:53    Is the modern environment is survivable?

0:50:41    Distract yourself else your mind will go racing.

0:51:33    Notification hell.

0:52:15    People get freaked out without external stimulation.

0:52:51    Men tend to ruminate on the future, women look back on everything that went wrong.

0:54:41    Make a list.

0:54:54    You will be better after sleep!

0:55:40    Don't look at the clock

0:57:46    There’s no evidence of vitamin D at night causing a problem.

0:59:16    Sleep Cocktails is changing name.

0:59:42    All the SEALs got off Ambien

1:00:08    Vitamin K2.

1:03:59    Book: Take a Nap! Change Your Life by Mark Ehrman.

1:05:13    Double your learning speed with naps.

1:09:47    Can you have too much sleep?

1:12:09    Kirk’s website.


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