*Today’s post comes from my dear friend Kirk Parsley, MD. Dr. Parsley was recently on our JASSA Podcast with Jason and I and this is the beginning of a blog series that he will be writing for Everyday Paleo which hopefully will help all of us pay more attention to this hugely important component of health called SLEEP!
SLEEP: Life’s Most Potent Elixir
Guest blog by: Kirk Parsley, MD
Let me start by saying what a great honor it is to have been a recent guest on Sarah’s podcast. I feel like we could have talked for days, but in order to not put any of her listeners to sleep (pun intended) we opted to keep it to an hour.
Before we dive into the recap of last week’s podcast, let me introduce myself. For those of you that don’t know who I am (most of you I’d wager), my name is Kirk Parsley. I am a former Navy SEAL, a Medical Doctor, and former doctor for the SEALs. I first met Sarah about 5 years ago, at an event for Naval Special Warfare (NSW). As all of you know, she is an amazing person; smart, funny, entertaining, and a bit sassy. I think she was impressed with my MovNat skills when we partnered up for Erwan Le Corre’s course. So, of course, we became fast friends. 😉
When we first met, NSW was mainly hiring her to do cooking demonstrations. Meanwhile, NSW was bringing me in to lecture on sleep and hormones. As most of you know, within a few minutes of meeting Sarah, one realizes that she’s smart about a lot more than cooking. We talked about nutrition, inflammation, training volume, mobility, periodization, mind-set, fat-loss . . . on and on and on.
Even though I’ve worked with Sarah at many more events, it always seemed that we had more to discuss than we had time to. The common ground we shared for helping people reach their health goals led us to a year long endeavor of trying to match our schedules in order to record a podcast together, and we finally did it!
On the podcast we talked a bit about the four pillars of health (as I see them): Sleep, Nutrition, Activity, Stress management—which I think started a bromance between Jason Seib and me—and then we tried to hone in on what the Everyday Paleo crowd is most interested in—with regards to sleep. During the last 10 minutes or so, we discussed the sleep supplement that I began developing while working with the SEALs, Sarah’s experience with the supplement, and how it might apply to all of you. You can read more about the supplement we discussed at: www.sleepcocktails.com
For those of you that didn’t get to the podcast, or simply don’t have time for podcasts, below I will summarize what we spent an hour discussing and also fill you in on a few special announcements!
We talked a lot about how I came to be a “sleep expert”, and how it all started while working as a physician for the SEALs. We also talked about how SEALs are not so unique, when it comes to their sleep issues. For the last several years Navy SEALs have been put on quite a pedestal, and I believe that position is well earned. However, athletes, entrepreneurs, CEO’s, age-groupers, cross-fitters, and busy moms actually have very similar problems (and beliefs) around sleep.
As I mentioned above, sleep is one of the “Four Pillars” of health (in my opinion the most important), but seemingly the least valued. We as a society seem to look at sleep as a luxury at best, and the pastime of the lazy at worst. However, sleep is no more optional or luxurious than eating, or being active, or controlling the stress in your life. If sleeping less than 8 hours per night had any kind of survival advantage, evolution would have favored that, and we’d be the ancestors of people that slept less—but we aren’t. Just 100 years ago, the average American slept 3 hours more than we do today. You don’t have to know much about evolution to realize that shift is not due to evolution.
So, why the sudden shift, and what’s the big deal?
I postulated in a TEDx talk that our attitude towards sleep probably stems from industrialization, although the case could be made that agriculture had a lot to do with it too. Either way, once time became money, sleep became a “non-money maker”. That is more true today than ever, and much of it is non-negotiable. Police have to work at night, because criminals like to work at night. Doctors, nurses, fire fighters, and other first responders don’t get to choose when they are needed. Even entertainers, and professional athletes have their sleep schedule dictated by event planners. Also, many businesses today require 24-hour customer service or maintenance.
The big deal about all of this is such a big deal that I could not possibly explain it in a single blog, or probably even 100 blogs. I’m not prone to hyperbole; so when you read the next sentence, please know that I mean exactly what it says. Lack of sleep damages every aspect of your life!
Lack of sleep increases your risk for, and worsens your prognosis for almost every single disease. Lack of sleep impacts your intelligence, your memory, your emotional stability, your reaction time, your problem solving skills, you willpower, your athleticism, your strength, your endurance, your balance, your risk for injury, your stress level, your ability to parent in the way you want to, and even your risk for divorce. Furthermore, it affects your appetite, satiety, cravings, and ability to lose weight.
That is just the tip of the iceberg. The list goes on and on. I challenge anyone to come up with a single activity that impacts us more.
On the podcast with Sarah and Jason, we only got to talk a little about how circadian rhythms and environmental stimulation impact our ability to sleep. But, neither of these things touch on one’s motivation to sleep, or the prioritization of sleep. We discussed that in the podcast quite a bit, but I can summarize: if being fatter, dumber, slower, weaker, colder, more emotional, and having higher risk of chronic and fatal diseases doesn’t motivate you, I’m not sure what will.
I’m not going to tell you that I have all of the answers, but I have been beating the sleep drum for many years, and I have helped a lot of people significantly improve their lives, by improving their sleep. The more interested you become in the topic, the more answers you will find that pertain to you. You can learn more on my site: www.docparsley.com, and you can learn more about our nutritional sleep supplement at my product site: www.sleepcocktails.com
As for the announcements:
Since Sarah’s audience has already been so responsive to the podcasts, I have had my awesome IT team set up a discount code for Sarah’s audience for the sleep product. When you go to the site: www.sleepcocktails.com and you decide to buy, make sure you put “Sarah Fragoso” (without the quotation marks), in the “discount code” box, and for the next 30 days, you will get a 10% discount on any purchase.
Secondly, since Sarah batted her eyelashes and asked nicely, I am going to produce a four-part blog series to discuss more about sleep, and how it effects our health, our performance, our body composition, our food cravings, and our kid’s health and development. If you have specific questions that you’d like me to cover, send them to me on my site www.docparsley.com or comment on this blog post and we will be sure to answer.
Thank you for reading, and be sure to look back here for the first blog of the series next week.