Meet Dr. Kirk Parsley, a former Navy SEAL, inventor of Sleep Remedy, and a world-renowned expert on the science of sleep. Dr. Parsley has been a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine since 2006 and has served as a Naval Special Warfare’s expert on Sleep Medicine. In addition, he is certified in hormonal modulation (Age-Management Medicine). Dr. Parsley lectures worldwide on sleep, wellness, and hormonal optimization and is currently completing a book on sleep and health optimization.
We were honored when Dr. Parsley agreed to participate in a Joovv AMA. So without further ado, here are his answers to your questions…
If I opened up your fridge right now, what would I see?
Eight separate containers of various types of nuts. Lots of pre-blended lettuce bags - containing lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, mushrooms, and maybe a tomato. Heavy cream for coffee, lots of cheese, 2 dozen eggs, bacon, a few cured meats - my next two dinners worth of whatever meat I’ll be having - along with Mark Sisson’s Chipotle Mayo, spicy mustard, a few marinades and maybe a few leftovers from cooking too much dinner (I’m notorious for that). Grass fed butter, milk for my 14-year-old daughter, guacamole, sour cream and blue cheese stuffed olives. I strive for 80-85% of meat to be grass-fed, grass-finished, free range and hormone-free. When the universe is treating me well, you’d find some ‘TopoChico’ mineral waters in there too. ;-)
You're widely considered an expert when it comes to sleep. What are the 2-3 biggest misconceptions when it comes to this topic?
The biggest misconception out there is the wide variation (from individual to individual) in terms of how much sleep a person needs. This concept is simply NOT true. No research has ever found these phantom, “4 hours of sleep” per night, optimal performers. The only thing that research does show (in this regard), is that not everyone breaks down at the same rate, meaning, some people suffer less and are more capable while being sleep deprived (this is what the “super-sleeper” fantasy is all about).
The second most common misconception is that there are “hacks” that will allow you to get away with less sleep. This may be true with regard to “hacks” related to exercise performance, diet, and stress. But not when it comes to sleep. Can you survive on less than 8 hours of sleep per night? Yes! Can you be at your best with significantly less sleep than 8 hours? Not a chance. Can you run a marathon every day? Yes. Would it lead to good health and top performance? Not a chance! Can you live off of McDonald’s hamburgers? Yes! . . . you get my point.
What is the one fitness activity you hate doing the most, but yields the best results?
Yoga!!! It’s slow, awkward, and often filled with woo-woo. I feel like an uncoordinated idiot when I practice. But, I’m within a rounding error of 50 now, and my balance, alignment, mobility, flexibility, and vestibular-accuracy are reminding me that I need to stay diligent if I still want to act and feel like I’m still 20!
I'm trying to convince my husband that he should consider your sleep remedy. If you were in the same room with him, what would be your "elevator pitch"?
It is a highly proven, reproducible fact that the quality and quantity of your sleep is directly linked to the quality and quantity of your life. Yes, I am saying you will die sooner and become sicker faster without optimal sleep. If that doesn’t get him, mention that the only time you get better at anything (long term), be it physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, creativity . . . is when you sleep. Rob yourself of sleep and you are robbing yourself of performance.
Have you ever used red light therapy (photobiomodulation)? If so, what type of results did you experience?
No. I have not played around with that yet.
What is the most important piece of advice you could give someone that is working on healing their metabolism?
Everyone’s metabolism is regulated (ultimately) by hormones, neuropeptides, and neuromodulators. ALL of these regulators are drastically altered by sleep deprivation. Nothing will heal you faster than making sleep your #1 priority.
What is something you like that most people would be surprised to learn?
Loud, obnoxious, gangster rap! I blast it into my ears while I’m driving through Texas with my boots and hat on, working out, or writing a blog post on mindfulness and meditative practices.
What is the one book that you’ve recommended the most?
“The Hard Thing About Hard Things” and “Extreme Leadership”.
What person(s) of influence are you closely following right now?
Right now I am working, training and studying with JJ Virgin on how to get my message out in a sustainable, reproducible way. We are philosophically aligned on nutrition, exercise, health, wellness, longevity, etc. But, she has figured out how to get maximal reach and influence.
If you could put a billboard anywhere, what would it say and where would you put it?
Anywhere there is a morning commute or stop-and-go freeway traffic: “You would be enjoying your entire life more with optimal sleep - even this traffic.”