Navy SEAL Dr. Kirk Parsley on Sleep vs. Performance, Heart Rate Variability, & Supplementation
Greetings, Superfriends. This week, I’m excited to bring you another bona-fide superhuman. Get this – my guest Dr. Kirk Parsley is not only a former Navy Seal and all-around athlete (having seriously competed in football, track and field, power lifting, boxing, multiple martial arts, volleyball, and crew). He’s also a doctor. Through his extensive work with the elite Navy SEALs and extensive personal experimentation, he has become an expert in all things fitness and health, but most specifically, sleep.
Now, you may or may not realize it, but sleep is the foundation for everything we do. Proper, healthy sleep is one of the most basic things that can either hold you back or propel you forward towards your goals – whether they’re fitness related, intellectual, professional, or even emotional goals. It’s for this reason that I’m so excited to welcome this guest. He’s working on a book with the great Robb Wolf all around optimal sleep. He’s designed Sleep Cocktails, a product designed to help people get into restful, restorative sleep more easily. Basically, there are very, very few people on the planet who know less about the correlations between sleep and performance than this guy.
A little bit of fair warning, it does take us 10-15 minutes to really dive deeper and find our flow. Also, make sure you listen through to the end, because we really hit our stride at about 50 minutes and Dr. Parsley starts throwing out incredible take-homes left and right, as well as some fascination biological and physiological facts. You’re sure to learn a lot from this episode, and given some of the mind-blowing facts Doc Parsley describes relating to sleep and performance… it might even change your life.
So, before I actually PUT you to sleep with this intro, let’s get the ball rolling, with Dr. Kirk Parsley.
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In this episode, we discuss:
- Who are Dr. Kirk Parsley’s peers in the field?
- Dr. Parsley’s career path, and how he became one of THE preeminent experts on sleep
- Some background on Dr. Parsley’s research with the SEALs and their unusual health issues
- The best strategy for optimizing sleep and cognitive performance
- How proper napping can accelerate learning dramatically
- Different types of stimulants, when to use them, and how they work
- Polyphasic sleep: is it a myth?
- Even if you’re not tired, how can you assess if you are getting inadequate sleep
- The functions of the sympathetic vs. parasympathetic nervous systems
- Understanding heart rate variability training, and why it’s really valuable
- Meditation and it’s affects on sleep
- How much sleep do different types of people actually need?
- What are the 3 changes you should go home and make TODAY to sleep better?
- When should you work out, according to the ultradian rhythm?
- What should you be doing before bed every night?
- A bit about nutrition and some dangerous micro-nutritional deficiencies
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- The Navy SEALs, an elite special operations force
- Dr. Peter Attia
- Robb Wolf
- Chris Kresser
- Dr. Kirk Parsley’s TED talk
- Dr. Sarah Mednick, her book Take a Nap, and the nap wheel
- Nicotine Gum
- Provigil/Modafinil (consult your doctor)
- Heart rate variability monitoring devices
- UV-blocking orange gaming glasses
- Philips hue smart lighting
- F.lux (Free software)
- Magnesium supplements
- Chewable Melatonin by Onnit
- Doc Parsley’s Sleep Cocktail
- Doc Parsley on Twitter
- Dr. Kirk Parsley’s personal website
- Also, check out this amazing guide on melatonin from The Sleep Advisor blog!