Even with the best diet and fitness routine, if sleep is off, you’re wrecked. Our special guest Dr. Kirk Parsley, a renowned expert in sleep and medical doctor, will reveal why sleep is essential to our health, metabolism, performance, and age in this episode.
Also, he shares the latest research on how sleep deprivation lowers testosterone levels, causes weight gain, makes us age faster, and much more.
Tune in to learn how to improve and optimize your sleep so you can create a leaner, healthier, and younger body.
Dr. Kirk Parsley
Doctor Kirk Parsley is a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine since 2006. He served as the Naval Special Warfare’s expert on Sleep Medicine and is certified in hormonal modulation.
He served as an Undersea Medical Officer at Naval Special Warfare Group One (from June 2009 to January 2013) where he led the development and supervised the group’s first Sports Medicine Rehabilitation center.
He is a former SEAL, and received his Medical Degree from Bethesda, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USUHS) in 2004.
After leaving the Navy he went into concierge medicine and consulting.
He continues to consult for multiple corporations, and professional athletes/teams and he lectures worldwide on sleep, wellness, and hormonal optimization.
- Doc Parsley’s journey from Navy SEAL to medical doctor
- How Doc Parsley became an expert in sleep
- The importance of a healthy lifestyle for our sleep
- How lack of sleep can cause weight gain
- How sleep influences testosterone levels
- How sleep helps us stay young
- How we become better versions of ourselves while we sleep
- How sleep deprivation damages our prefrontal cortex
- Why we should have 8 hours of sleep every night
- The link between stress hormones and sleep
- Red flags that show us we are running on stress hormones
- How to reduce your stress hormones
- The balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic brain activity
- Measuring and tracking your sleep: The best tools to use
- Effective strategies to improve and optimize your sleep
- And much more…
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Podcast Transcription: Sleep 101: Why Sleep Is the No. 1 Most Important Thing for a Better Body with Dc Kirk Parsley
Ted Ryce: Dr. Kirk Parsley, thanks so much for coming back on the show and being patient with some of the technical difficulties involved. Appreciate that, man.
Kirk Parsley: Yeah, my pleasure coming on, I run an internet based business and I do consulting over Zoom. So, I am 100% used to all the technology issues. I do Zoom recordings literally every single day. And third of the time they don't work. And I'm just like, I do the exact same thing every day, how is it bot working today? Soldier on!
Ted Ryce: Soldier on. There's a great Navy SEAL saying there, about pushing on when things are. I went to the Navy SEAL museum in Florida and there were all these great quotes.
Kirk Parsley: There are a lot of them. The most famous one is “the only easy day was yesterday”. You know, like you got to earn it every day. Don't ever think there's an easy day. If it's easy, you're doing something wrong here. You're quitting as we'd say on the team. The worst thing to do is be a quitter. Like you ever quit, you're the worst thing on the planet. Tough group to hang around
Ted Ryce: Tough group, high-performers no doubt. I just watched some Navy SEAL movies recently and of course it's highly dramatized. But it's just amazing what you guys do. And I would love to, even though you've been on this show a few times and if you're listening right now, if you haven't listened to Kirk Parsley's, “The power of sleep with Dr. Kirk Parsley that's episode 138.
You want to check that one out and also “398: Sleep guidelines, immune system and coronavirus with Dr. Kirk Parsley”.
So those two, I'll remind you at the end again, but you want to check those out as well. But Kirk, I would love to hear a little bit more about, even though you've been on the show, you shared a bit of this story, but a little bit of the Navy SEAL journey again, because it's just something that we have a lot of new listeners, we get a hundred thousand downloads a month now, which before it was not that much.
So, could you share a little bit about how you got into health, how you got into specifically really preaching about sleep and what did your time in the teams have to do with all that?
Kirk Parsley: Well as we talked about before I got interested in health and wellness and fitness at a very, very young age, probably pathologically young. But it was a thing I gravitated to, I just wanted to be big and strong and athletic and when I was a boy, that's all I wanted.
I'd always been into it, started lifting weights early, competing in lots of things early, competing in sports, doing martial arts, all that stuff, all to the detriment of my academic career, which I didn't care at all about. I thought that school was the most boring place in the world.
I had no interest in never being there. I hated it. And my grades reflected it, did really poorly in school, dropped out of school, got a GED because I wanted to go do, what I recently learned because there's a news journalism show, a lot like 60 minutes back in the eighties, it was called 48 hours. And they would cover something for 48 hours obviously.
And they covered SEAL training and this was touted as the toughest training in the world. I could do the toughest training world. So, I want to go see if I can do that. So that's what I did.
Really didn't know what a SEAL was, to be honest, loosely had some kind of idea what they were. I knew they were like Rambo kind of. I was a kid I didn't know anything.
I didn't even know the Navy was going to pay me, like I was in the Navy for a couple of months before I found out they were going to pay me. I didn't know, like why would you pay me?
You're giving me food, you're giving me a place to live. You're giving me clothes, what do I need money for? So that's how naive I was, but I just wanted to go to the training.
So, I did, and then went to the SEAL teams on the west coast. In those days, the SEAL team kind of had his own operational area. We had Southeast Asia. So we went to the Philippines and Thailand and Singapore and some Micronesia stuff.
We would work with in training other militaries special forces. We'd work with kind of special units of the police departments. And do kind of police work and worked a little with the FBI and do some drug interdiction stuff, but we didn't have like this post 911 combat stuff. So I'm not one of those dudes with a big grizzly beard and all the kids strapped all over me and all the combat experience in Afghanistan and then Iraq and all that. I was pre pre 911. I started dating a woman who was getting her master's degree in physical therapy. And she became my wife later but while I was in the SEAL teams, I'm dating her and I was taking her textbooks on deployment to read because there were things I was interested in.
There was like biomechanics, kinesiology, anatomy, physiology, some nutritional stuff, and I'd go read her textbooks.
So, I thought maybe I could be a physical therapist, right or something along those lines, athletic trainer. So, I got a little older. My brain finished developing and I decided, well, maybe I don't have to just lift heavy things and be aggressive all the time. Maybe I could do something intellectual.
And so, I thought I'd go to college and see what else was out there. I had to go junior college obviously, because I had a GED. So, I started in junior college, I started volunteering at San Diego sports medicine center because you have to have 2000 volunteer hours just to apply to that physical therapy school.
And that's what I was thinking I would do. And then they pretty quickly hired me and I became a physical therapy assistant and I would kind of do the same thing that Physical therapists did. I was just under their supervision and I pretty quickly decided that wasn't right for me. It wasn't exactly what I wanted to do.
But San Diego sports medicine center, which is this amazing healthcare Mecca, they had every kind of healthcare practitioner you can imagine. They had a massage therapist there. They had acupuncturist come through, they had podiatrists come work there. We had doctors, we had MDs and DOs.
We had orthopedic surgeons and family practice guys. We had physical therapists, we had physical therapy assistant. We had athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches. So we kind of had everything.
And I had the opportunity to have to follow people around and work with people and get to know them. And the doctors there, I kind of gravitated towards them. They gravitate towards me.
I don't know which and because I'd been a SEAL I'd spent seven years essentially going through training and being a SEAL and now I got out. So these guys weren't that much older than me, they're like four or five years older than me.
And you know, they're talking up saying, you should go be a doctor. I'm like, come on, man. Like, I don't, I'm a high school dropout. I'm not going to be a doctor. Didn't think that was even a possibility. And one of, actually the senior doctor there who owned the clinics, a guy named Dr. Lee Ryce, who I worked with when I actually got out of the Navy, I went back and worked in his practice, but he comes out of this office and he says, you know, Kirk, the question isn't, could you get into medical school? The question is, would you go, if you got in, I was like, of course I would. He's like, then you have to try. So he kind of guilted me into it all. So I got to do it. I did my undergrad and did really well and took the MCAT and did fairly well. I probably wasn't going to get into Harvard or Yale, but I could get into probably most schools, that's competitive for most schools. But before the internet, you had to go down to the bookstore and get the Kaplan school review and like figure out which schools you are competitive for. And it was at that time when I was applying to medical schools that I found out the military had their own medical school, because to me like the military was a closed chapter in my life.
I'd done it. I grew up kind of rural Texas, like 12th generation Texan. We just kind of expected, you're going to go to the military, you're going to go do your service. And that's just a really common thing in my family. So just always knew I'd do it. And I'd done that. And I was gonna do something else. But at this point I was already married.
I already had my first kid and I found out the military had their own school. And they would pay me to go to medical school, instead of me paying someone else to go to medical school.
And because I had time in as enlisted that time coming towards pay. So, I was actually going to make enough money to support my family while I went to medical school.
So, allowing my wife not to work and stay home with the kids. And so, it was a no-brainer and the way the military works, they'll train you dude, they'll train you to do anything if you're competitive to get into their program, but the game is you pay them back with your time. And it's usually about a two to one, so they'll train me to be a doctor. It takes four years, but then I got to stay there for eight years and be a doctor.
And so, it's 12 years in the Navy, to be a doctor essentially, four years in training and eight years as a doctor.
And I figured I would get back to the SEAL teams as a doctor there, that would allow me to give back to the community that was hugely formidable and shaping who I became as a man and as an adult. And I did, I got back to the SEAL teams.
All of my training was focused around orthopedics. I was dead set on going to be an orthopedic surgeon after I did my, in the military, they call it a utilization tour, which is basically you do one year residency.
And then you go and you do, what's called a utilization tour, which means they send you out to some command that needs a doctor. And you've worked sort of as a general practitioner.
Otherwise, everybody in the Navy would just specialize and you wouldn't be able to get any GPs anywhere.
So, they send me back to the SEAL teams. I'm the doctor there. I get there right at the time, that the congressional funding had come through to build our very first sports medicine facility. And so obviously I had a great pedigree for that. They put me in charge of that build out. I worked with the teams building it.
I worked with, other leadership and the SEAL teams to hire our first nutritionist and our first athletic trainer and our first strength and conditioning coach and our first physical therapist and our first physical therapy assistant and built this beautiful facility and had ortho rounds.
So, they had the ortho from the hospital coming through and doing rounds. Once a week, we had the department of pain management in the hospital. They would come through and do rounds.
We had an acupuncturist coming through. We had chiropractor coming through. So, at this point, I'm the least qualified guy down there. I'm the dumbest guy around now. We didn't hire Joe Blows off the street. I mean, we hired people from the Olympic training center, from professional sports teams and like we hired top, top caliber people.
And so, in the military, what do you do when you're the dumbest guy around and they put you in charge, and say you're the leader? So now I'm like leading this clinic but I really didn't have much of a job. I couldn't really go in to do like the regular stuff that doctors usually do. There's just kind of like day to day, sick call sniffles, sneezes, balling up on, mending injuries, those types of things, just general practitioner kind of stuff.
So, I couldn't really do that and manage the clinic. So, I lived in the clinic and patients would come see me if it was beyond what the clinic could do, whoever's in the clinic. And the most important part of this story though, is the mentality, the culture of the SEAL teams.
So, SEALs are just like professional athletes. Their job is the most important thing to them. Some people would argue with me, but let me say, they behave as though their job is the most important thing to them. Even if they say their priorities are slightly different but it's up there for everybody.
And the worst thing that you can do is put them on the bench. I mean, that is, do anything else to them, demote their rank, humiliate them, call them names, take away money. Nothing is as bad as getting taken out of your job.
So, they don't want to be on the bench. So, when they go see doctors and other healthcare providers who can disqualify them, they just lie and they just say, nothing is wrong. I feel fine. I'm terrific.
They'll literally hide injuries. It's really bad. I mean, they'll get like steroid injections so that they can move their shoulder good on the day you're going to evaluate them and say, look, my shoulder's fine.
Like no problem but because I'd been a SEAL and because there were still, I'd been a SEAL recently enough to where there were still plenty of SEALs around that I had been a SEAL with and I'd been through training with, and I'd done deployments with, platoons with, and so they trusted me and they would come in my office and say, “Hey, let me tell you what's really going on”, you know, shut the door. And it was all kind of hush, hush.
And they know I wouldn't disqualify them. And of course, I didn't, but they came in and they said, my mood is all over the place. I go from being angry, to being sad, like instantaneously and for no discernible reason. I can't concentrate to save my life.
I have to ask people five, six times what they just told me. I can't pay attention in briefings. I kind of have this underlying sense of anxiety. My sex drive sucks. I am snappish and angry and mean to my kids and my wife.
My body composition is shifting. I'm getting fatter and weaker, but I'm eating perfectly. I'm working out exactly how I'm being trained and taught to work out, doing everything right. My cognition just sucks. Like I walk in a room, I can't remember why I was there. I walk out. I remember I walked back in.
I can't remember again, but maybe I'm just getting old, doc. And they really believe that, they really think maybe they're just getting old.
Ted Ryce: Like 28 right.
Kirk Parsley: I was going to say like 32. Still ripped, six pack abs, big muscular. And I'm like, yeah, you're just old. It's all over. Like, you might as well start digging your grave now. I mean, that just like, but it's a culture where it focuses around young.
You have to be really resilient, fit, be made of rubber to do that job. So, I honestly didn't have the slightest idea how to help them. I was a medical doctor, I'd been trained in Western medicine. I've been trained how to recognize and treat disease.
They didn't have disease. Like first thing I did was just test every lab I could possibly think to test. I didn't know what I thought I was going to find.
I was just like, well, let's just do it all. All right. So, like I'll do the full panel. And actually the panels I was doing back then was just the consensus, they were just ridiculous. I got in trouble many times from the Navy saying it was wasteful, but with the advent and progression of functional and integrative medicine, the panels I did back then would now be pretty normal.
They were robust, but I would do a full hormone panel, a full blood panel, inflammatory panel. I would do the best chem, which is, you know, sort of like a metabolome multi-bi, sort of nutritional mineral. They don't quite classify the way they classify now, but basically I do Saram labs, do urine for some things, I could do 24 hour cortisol catch if I saw that they had some cortisol issues and I just kind of tested everything.
And I saw this pattern that they had low testosterone, so the scale in the military, the acceptable usual range or normal range. It depends on who's referring to it, how they're referred to it, but it's kind of the reference range that you're looking at. And for the lab sets that I was using, for the lab that I was using, the normal testosterone was 250 to 1100 for a total.
That's a pretty big range. But when you learned how they figured that range out, that range comes from Framingham and the Framingham that you might know is like, it's a small town in Massachusetts, 30 or 40 years, all they did is collect data on the sound, because it was a decent sized population, but had very little inflow and outflow.
Ted Ryce: This is a Framingham heart study but there a lot of more ...?
Kirk Parsley: Right. And so, they just collected everything they could think of, new labs would come out, they'd start collecting it over the 30 or 40 years. And they just collected it and banked it.
But their criteria for you having normal testosterone, was that you had to be male. You had to have your testicles and you had to be alive. And that was it, you meet those three criteria and you fell into the normal range.
So, you can imagine the 250 is probably the 81 year old man sitting in a nursing home. And the 1100 is like the 19 year old athlete. I mean intuitively this makes sense, in academia, like this is just a normal range. So, I'd have a 32 year old, 220 pound muscular, fit, lean Navy sealer in front of me with a total testosterone of 256.
And if I send him to endocrinology, normal, he's inside that normal range or I'd send him with like 238 and they would retest him and he'd come back 251 and be like normal.
So anyway, I would see low testosterone, I'd see all low anabolic markers. So, things like IGF 1 is the downstream product of growth hormone, DHEA, Pregnenolone. These things are like precursors to the testosterone and DHT, again, thyroid function and anabolic. And they would be off on all this, like their anabolic markers would be low.
Their catabolic or inflammatory markers, stress hormones, cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine, all of these things would be high. So catabolic high, anabolic low. And that doesn't make sense with the young fit male who eats well, exercises.
So, they would get their labs. They'd come back and see me. I'd talk to them. We're just trying to figure things out. I immediately just start looking into alternative stuff. Fortunately, I was in this great position, being able, being the SEAL, the doctor for the West Coast SEAL teams. The SEALs had already killed Bin Laden and been in movies.
So, they had this kind of quasi celebrity status. And so, I could see a TED talk or go to a lecture or read somebody's book and I just call them and say, Hey, I'm the doctor of the West Coast SEAL team. I really like your work, it's very informative to me. Can I pick your brain for a bit?
Could I consult on clients with you? Could I come train with you and all these guys, everybody I called was very gracious. Like, yeah, go ahead. Absolutely. And so, I got to learn a lot really quickly.
And so, when I first started out, I thought this was adrenal fatigue. And I thought, adrenal, I thought well this is like what they called combat fatigue or shell shock and like post and old wars.
And adrenal fatigue is the new term for the same phenomenon. It's kind of what I thought. And a lot of guys, fit that sort of definition which in the true medical, academic medical world, you would call them HPTA mismatch.
So, a mismatch between what's going on in your brain and the organs below that, that are supposed to be controlling. And so, these people would, the cortisol curves, I do salivary cortisol catchers, ASI, adrenal stress index. I would test their cortisol. And it just, it wasn't what it was supposed to be.
Sometimes it would just be completely inverted. Sometimes it would be a flat line and just super low. Sometimes there was no predictable pattern whatsoever. And so, I was like, oh, it's adrenal issue. So, I started treating for that.
Navy didn't like me doing that either because that was beyond my scope, giving people, IV, vitamins was beyond the scope of a medical doctor somehow. So, they kind of cracked down on me for that.
And the SEAL community is a very tight culture. And so, when one guy would come to me and tell me a story, whether I could help him or not, he felt relieved that he got to share that with somebody who he thought could help him and somebody who was willing to help them. So they would tell their friends.
And then obviously if I had success with anybody, he definitely told his friends and then word of mouth, every guy tells two other guys. And I was flooded with these guys really quickly. And I'd say about the hundredth guy who was in my office, said something about taking Ambien every night.
I can remember so clearly, like where I was sitting, how I was sitting, where he was just like this light bulb going off in my head. And I was like, I think a lot of guys have said that to me. And I kind of made a note in the margin and I'm going to look that up after this visit.
So, we have our visit, he goes off, I start flipping back through all the old files that I have. Every single guy who had been in my office was taking Ambien, if not every night, very regularly. And so, I was like, well, I wonder if Ambien is causing problems.
And I had taken pharmacology in medical school and I knew the mechanism of action for Ambien, but that was about it. I could read about the side effects, but you have to know a significant amount about how sleep works before you really understand what it means to have a Gabba analog working in your brain.
So, if you're just like, well, it acts like Gabba and Gabba helps you sleep. And that's about as much as you learn in medical school, but what does that mean?
So, like how could that affect the normal physiology of sleep? So that was a really, really deep rabbit hole that I spent a long time. I mean, I would say it was at least 18 months before I was reasonably smart on that, because it's a messy subject because there are hundreds, if not thousands of things changing in your brain, like every second, every minute while you're asleep, depending on what phase of sleep you're in and all sorts of things are. So at least the postulate was there.
It's like, okay, well, when you understand what sleep is, and I didn't understand what sleep was me. I guarantee you'll pull 99.9% of all doctors who just graduated medical school. They don't know what sleep is either.
Because we don't learn, I never had a lecture on sleep. I didn't know anything about it. And so once I learned what sleep was and what the benefits of sleep were, then I could say, okay, well, if this drug causes a decrease in deep sleep, or if this drug causes a decrease in REM sleep, or if it causes whatever, however it changes your sleep architecture, then I could say, well, that would likely lead to these symptoms. And when I got to that point, I was like, this could literally explain every problem that SEALs are having.
Now, I wasn't naive enough to think that it would. And I thought there was probably something else going on, but this was at least one thing that I thought would make a big difference. So, what I really wanted to do is go fix the hormones because I was a doctor and I like, I can give them hormones. I can give them testosterone.
I can give them something to block their DHT. I can give them something to decrease their estrogen and I can give them thyroid. I wanted to go fix all this, but you can't do that. Cause these guys are active-duty SEALs who knows where they're going to be, how long they're going to be gone. They can't be dependent upon medication. So, if you do that, you put them on the bench. So, I wasn't allowed to do that.
And I was like, all right, well, I'm going to figure out what I can do. So, when I would talk to the SEALs, I would tell them, this is true. I wasn't being misleading. But I knew what would motivate them was performance.
And so, I would talk to them about how sleep affects their testosterone and their growth, their IGF1 levels, their growth hormone levels, their thyroid function, their adrenal function, how it affects their body composition, how it affects their appetite, how it affects their fuel partitioning, their insulin sensitivity, all of this stuff.
And they knew what this stuff was. And so, they would take on the idea of sleep because if you think about it, SEALs, any special forces, but SEALs maybe more so than most, this is not an organization that value sleep. Like sleep is something weak people do. You sleep when there's nothing else to be done and you have time to sleep. Otherwise you don't need sleep. It's a mind game.
Ted Ryce: Mind over matter.
Kirk Parsley: Yeah, if you're tough enough, you don't need that. I probably chose the worst two professions in the world for sleep.
Ted Ryce: Doctors and SEALs.
Kirk Parsley: I mean, like, I can't tell you how many times I worked 48 hours in a row at a hospital. And like, I know that now it's like that was ridiculous dumb.
Ted Ryce: You amputated the wrong hand man.
Kirk Parsley: It's so irresponsible, it would be hysterical if it wasn't potentially traumatic, because you're already a young dump doctor, like, you know, some textbook stuff, but you don't know much about doctoring.
Like that's why you're there, is to learn and to be supervised. When you're sleep deprived so you're even dumber. And you're working for staff members who are also sleep deprived and you're all working together.
And so, it's a group ignorance. Like everybody's getting dumber over the day and you're all working hand in hand.
So anyway the SEAL had these retreats, where they would, before a SEAL team would deploy, they bring up all the people who are deploying and all their families and they bring them to a resort and they spend three or four days with them giving them lectures, giving them material, letting them talk to people and like preparing them for deploying.
Obviously, most of these people have deployed before, but a fair number of them, this is going to be their first deployment and a fair number of them are married with kids. So, it's like you're setting expectations for both sides.
And then when they came back from deployment, you did the same thing. Kind of like teaching them how to wind down, here are the things to look for, PTSD like symptoms or the types of things that interfere with the utility of the force and the health of the force.
And we'd bring in all these guests' lecturers. If there was somebody who was popular, who was really hot in the health and wellness space or psychology space that related to this, like we'd bring in Colonel Grossman to talk about the psychology of killing because he has a book on killing.
We bring in Rob Wolf to talk about nutrition and we'd bring in John Wellborn to talk about strength and conditioning and whatever. So, we bring in these big-name people. And then since the Navy had me for free, they'd always put me in the mix.
And say now you go lecture on sleep. So, I lecture on sleep, like I said, with a heavy tilt towards hormone and performance, but then I got to know all these other lectures and we hit it off and we all had similar interests and thoughts similarly about health and wellness and longevity.
And, you know, they invited me on their podcast and they'd recommend me for lectures. And then I started lecturing and then news channels, media, magazines, newspapers, all this stuff, find out about you, word of mouth. And I became the sleep guru, sleep enthusiast I like to call myself.
There are doctors who are sleep specialists who go through a specialized training and they're diagnosing sleep disease. And there are a lot of sleep diseases, but most people don't have sleep diseases.
Most people have unfortunate sequala from not sleeping well and poor sleep habits and other lifestyle habits. And it's been my experience that very, very, very rarely does somebody come to me when they have their nutrition and their exercise, and their stress mitigation all under control. And they can't sleep.
Like almost never happens. Like it's always, there's always a big lifestyle component when I'm helping people with sleep.
So that's where I ended up. I needed guys like, you know, Rob Wolf to help me with the nutrition because I wasn't a nutrition expert, so I could learn from him. Then when things got too complex, I just, hey, go talk to Rob. I'd put him on the phone. Same thing with kind of all the lifestyle medicine.
Then over the course of the years I've gotten better at all that. I'm pretty, self-sufficient at handling, sort of all the lifestyle stuff at this point. But that's what got me here. When I was helping all the SEALs get off of Ambien, which by the way, was hugely successful and resolving their symptoms hugely successful.
I got every single guy off of Ambien, but the reason I ended up with a sleep supplement is because I couldn't just take away their Ambien and say, suck it up buttercup.
I had to give them something else. I started with just vitamin D3 and I gave them that, and that was kind of helpful. Then I found, oh, magnesium's a co-factor for vitamin D3 reactions. I gave them magnesium.
Then I can just piece meal over the course of several months, we came out with this stack of vitamins and nutrients and supplements that would help people sleep. It made a lot easier for them to get off the sleep drugs, but they're having to go buy it all over town. This is pre Amazon.
They buy 90-day supply of pills here, 30 day supply that pills here. This was a powder, that was liquid. They couldn't really travel with it. It was a pain in the butt, and they just really harangued me into making a product for their convenience.
That's the only reason the sleep supplement exists, because I designed it to help them get off of sleep drugs. They liked it wanted to keep using it. I developed it for them and surprisingly, it became a business. That's the full doc Parsley pedigree right there. You got the whole thing. I don't know if you wanted the whole thing, but you got it.
Ted Ryce: I love it. I love this story. There's so many directions we could go into and we'll talk more about your sleep remedy product. We have a 10% off code that we can share with you too. But if you're a person and you're trying different sleep, perhaps medications, I'm not a doctor, so I can't tell you to stop taking that shit. Kirk isn't necessarily your doctor.
Kirk Parsley: I'm not you're a doctor. I can't tell you to either, but I can recommend that you think about it. Talk to your doctor.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. What comes up for me from your story, that's relevant to the people listening, which are a lot of entrepreneurs high-performers, or people who aspire to be high performance is, we rely on the biomedical model and the practitioners of it.
In other words, doctors, to kind of really help us with our health, the reality is, like you mentioned a lot of doctors, they don't know about sleep in particular. They may not understand all the ramifications, like you mentioned, of Ambien. Yeah. It helps you sleep, but it affects your sleep architecture. How long you spend in each phase of sleep and that can have issues.
Then you're talking about, you use the words, functional medicine, integrative medicine. There's a lot of people use that word who, are really out there, it's a little hard to trust what they say.
I trust you because I've just spoken to you many times and I've watched your Ted Talk and I really respect and trust what you say about this stuff. I feel like you've got a good balance between, okay, you've got the foundation of your medical training, you understand it, but then you also were dealing with these high-performance guys, these SEALs.
Like you said the Ambien not a good idea, cause it's messing up sleep architecture. So many doctors might just pump them up full of hormones. But then you tried some other things that aren't necessarily a part of standard medical treatments.
You got a little issues from the Navy doing that. What do you feel like someone needs to know who may be struggling with some lifestyle stuff, sleep in particular when they go to their doctor and it's like, well, we did your labs, maybe your cholesterol is a little bit high. Maybe you kind of try to eat better.
Your testosterone shows up as 252 or whatever, like you're in the normal range. I don't see a problem here. What does a person, a high-performer need to know about their health in that way and relying on the medical system?
Kirk Parsley: First, I want to preface that by something you and I have talked about offline, but I don't know if we've already talked about in your podcasts that, I do private consulting and it's a pretty exclusive thing and it's an annual program. Definitely not right for most people, but my clientele are exactly who you're talking about. Exactly who your clientele are.
I mean, they're really successful entrepreneurs, but most of them were previous helicopter pilots in the military, jet fighters or special forces or division one college athletes.
These people for the most part, have been top performers, their whole lives. When they come to see me they're falling apart, but they still have a lot of willpower. There's still a lot of drive. They're still getting after it. What they really want is for me to like fix them up real quick and just let them them get back to life.
And that's not the way it is. Now the benefit of this group being who they are is they will listen to every podcast and watch every Ted Talk and read every book. Then they will fire questions at me nonstop for hours. It forces me to understand what's out there and what people are being taught.
But the most important aspect of all of this is to realize for entrepreneurs that you're, essentially using your body as a way to carry around your brain as an entrepreneur.
Very few people are entrepreneurs making money by swinging a sledgehammer. You're an entrepreneur, and now are you making decisions. Well, one thing is you're communicating first so that you have the information to make the decision. Then you're trying to predict things in the future. You're trying to figure out, what are the most likely outcomes of this multi-variant problem that I could do this or I could do that. But if I do this that'll happen, I would do this that'll happen. This could happen. This is what I need to work out for it. It's a complex thing. Like I know I run a couple of businesses myself. I know exactly how that goes. It's very mentally taxing.
Then you have to have the emotional resiliency to deal with things going wrong all the time. Almost every day, something's not going the way you thought it should go, or it should be going and you got to fix that. It's a very trying profession.
Most of these people have some pretty significant fitness. A lot of my clients are Ironman competitors or former Ironman competitors. They run businesses now, or they're just super high-level CEOs, whatever it is.
But there are people who their health is important to them, but they have like this teenage, early twenties idea about what health is, right. Well, you know, just work out, right? I'll just work out more. I'll train hard and I'll eat more salad and that, and that's gonna fix things. There's a lot more to it than that.
90% of what I do is lifestyle. When I'm training people, or when I'm working with people, I'm working with clients, I'm trying to explain to them, this body is a couple of hundred thousand years old. It evolves to be on this planet, to be awake during the day and asleep during the night. In fact, it evolves to be awake for 16 hours and sleep for eight hours. You're born into that contract, just like you're born into the contract that you're going to die one day. You don't get to negotiate that. You need eight hours of sleep for 16 hours of being awake. Everybody does. You can't be better than that. You can't hack your way out of that.
If you're a 35 year old, biohacker, you've been an adult for like seven minutes. You're saying I've got 200,000 years of evolution wired and I know how to do better, and I'm going to trick it and do this I'm like, no, you don't.
And if you do happen to do something that leads to a little performance gain now, what are the downstream? What are the long-term effects of that? You don't know? Nobody knows.
I tell everybody it's 90% of the lifestyle. It's not that complex. It's actually very simple. Now that doesn't make it easy.
It's very hard to get your lifestyle in order. It's very difficult. It's very taxing. You have to do a lot of stuff you don't want to do. You have to track a lot of things that aren't really that interesting to you, but you really have to do this to get your lifestyle in order. It's a tough thing to do.
It's simplistic in concept, but it's hard to implement. It takes a long time to get your lifestyle. But once you do, it's exceedingly rare that people come to me and they're like, I'm eating spot on it. My nutrition is spot on. My exercise is very smart.
Like I'm training with the trainer. I'm tracking my heart rate variability. I'm not over training. I'm not training when I'm over-trained taking breaks, I'm doing this. I've done that. Oh, and I meditate every day. I'm religious, I pray. I have a strong sense of community. My stress level is nil, but I can't sleep.
That doesn't happen. It doesn't happen. If it does happen, they probably have a sleep disease and they need to go see a sleep physician who specializes in that.
That's not the case. The thing about sleep we recognize is that every single thing that you do, everything you do want to get better at, you get better at while you're asleep. You don't get stronger when you work out, you get weaker when you work out, you damage tissues when you work out. When you sleep, you repair those tissues.
Based on how you damage those tissues, your brain and body are smart enough to go, oh these muscle fibers are being put through an intense amount of tension and stress, and they're rupturing because they aren't strong enough.
So, We're going to make them bigger and thicker and stronger so that they won't tear next time. Then you get stronger, or they're super enduring. We're going to increase mitochondrial density. We're going to figure out a way to get things in and out of the cells faster so that cell can last longer before being becoming toxic and damaged from exercise. You actually get better while you're repairing and you're repairing while you're asleep.
When you learn stuff it's loosely in your head. When you go to sleep, you rehearse it, you form new neural connections. You start being able to associate that with other information that, you know, you really, really understand it. Then you wake up the next day able to use that information a lot more efficiently.
But most importantly, your prefrontal cortex, which is what makes us the smartest animal on the planet, take out the prefrontal cortex and you're dumber than a monkey. You're more like a deer. You're completely stimulus and response at that point.
You don't think about the future. You definitely can't plan. None of that stuff happens. What makes us the smartest animal on the planet is our prefrontal cortex. What's the area of your brain that suffers the most from sleep deprivation. Your prefrontal cortex.
Obviously, it makes perfect sense that it would. What area of your brain is most inhibited by stress hormones? Prefrontal cortex. Your prefrontal cortex.
Roberts Sapolsky, who is sort of the pioneer of the cortisol stress hormone study, he's the author of “Why zebras don't get cancer” and several other books. He calls the prefrontal cortex, the simulator, great metaphor, because I can sit here and I can simulate things. I don't have to do them. You can invite me to jump off the roof of your building. I don't have to do it. I go, like, it could be really fun.
Could be, but let me think about it. My simulation says we're going to die. I don't want to do that. That's an example, but we do it with everything.
Again, the entrepreneur says like, oh, well, I got this much cash in the bank. I need this. I need that. I can't really afford both.
How am I going to juggle things around? Well, if I get this guy to give me these terms, and then I do this and I put this off, then I can pay for that. Then I'll get this extra revenue here. I can repay it. That's a complex problem, but you're predicting the future. You're having to guess what's going to happen based on what you know today.
You're having to do math and you're having to solve complex problems, all of that's prefrontal cortex. I just told you, you're born into this. You're born into this contract. You're awake and active for 16 hours. After that, you need eight hours to recover.
If you don't recover a hundred percent the next day, you're actually waking up the next day, worse than the day before. That makes sense?
I beat myself down for 16 hours. I'm diminished over what I woke up as. Now I don't get good sleep. The next day I'm going to be even worse. This is really what we call aging. This is really what aging is. If you could recover a hundred percent every night, fix everything that got broken, everything had got stressed, you wouldn't age, you would be the same person every day when you woke up. You can't fix that a hundred percent. Like it doesn't work that fast, but this is sort of the minimum recovery we know specifically for the brain.
If I know the entire purpose of me sleeping tonight is to get my brain and body ready for tomorrow, and I know I need eight hours of sleep, but if I only get six hours of sleep, tomorrow still comes. What do I do? How do I do tomorrow?
I release stress hormones, because stress hormones because stress hormones are catabolic. They're using all of my stored resources. Like my stress hormones use my stored resources to get me through an event.
The maximum stress, fight or flight. Tiger jumps out of the bushes. The only thing that matters is getting away from the tiger. No other physiologic function in your body matters. Your body and brain will sacrifice every function that doesn't entail you getting away from that tiger.
One of the most important things it's just going to sacrifice is your prefrontal cortex. Because if you start planning how you're going to get rid of that tiger, you're dead before you finished thinking about the plan. We inhibit this, right? Our brains don't work. You can ask somebody their phone number in a gunfight, they won't be able to tell you, I guarantee you like your brain shuts off for this stuff.
If that's fight or flight, then your prefrontal cortex is useless. Well, what if you're 50% down there? Well, it's 50% is useless as it is up here. What if your stress hormone is like almost zero? Well, then you have the maximum prefrontal cortex function you could possibly have. Don't you want your stress hormones to be really low? Well, of course you do.
Stress hormones are catabolic. Catabolic means you're taking complex things, you're breaking them down into small things, primarily as fuel. I use my muscles, I break them down, I get amino acids because my body needs amino acids to continue its functions. That's catabolic.
Anabolic means I go to sleep. I'm well-nourished. I damage my muscles and my body uses all the amino acids I ate and it builds new muscle fibers and new muscle tissue. I'm building up. That's anabolic.
Sleep should be highly anabolic, and it is. It's the most anabolic time of your day. In fact, deep sleep is the exact opposite of fight or flight. Every hormone that's high during fight or flight is non-existent during deep sleep and vice versa.
So, when you wake up the next morning, you should have fairly low stress hormone. You should be anabolic. If you don't get enough sleep, the only way to have enough energy and resources that day is to secrete more stress hormones, which are catabolic. You're breaking yourself down. You're also interfering with your brains function.
Now you run a high level of stress hormones. You try to go to sleep. You can't go to sleep cause your stress hormones are too high. This is one of the rules. Stress hormones have to be at a certain level for you to even be able to fall asleep.
If you do manage to fall asleep, it won't be very high quality sleep. Now, even if you get eight hours, your stress hormones were so high, you only got the benefit of six hours. Now you're going to wake up tomorrow with even higher stress hormones every day, wake up with higher stress hormones it gets harder to go to sleep.
Now you're not sleeping well because you have high stress hormones and you have high stress hormones because you aren't sleeping well.
This is what that aging process is, between like 45 and 55 when we're less metabolically resilient, and we're still trying to live like we lived when we were 20 and you just watch people crash. This is what happens to the president of the United States. When you watch him age 20 years over the course of four, it's stress hormones and sleep.
Ted Ryce: I don't know why anybody would want that job, but I'm glad people are willing to do it.
Kirk, I love this conversation, man. I put together like a stress series recently and diving into some of this stuff. Because it's like one of the things that people aren't talking about as you referenced earlier the 35-year-old biohacker trying to get out of the sleeping by shining infrared light on his genitals.
Kirk Parsley: If only evolution would have thought of this in the last 200,000 years.
Ted Ryce: So dumb. Could have just added gold butter, especially anyway. But it's a very special brand, but as you're saying that, it resonates with me a lot. Cause I've lived this too with some of the traumas that I've been through.
I haven't been in the Navy SEAL or even in the military, although I have a ton of respect for people who do that type of thing. Many other people, I feel like that what we're talking about right now, I don't want to go down this rabbit hole too much, but it's just like, why are people acting so crazy?
It's like, well, we've got a culture that is constantly running on stress hormones instead of repairing themselves.
I remember listening to someone, I forget the exact context, but she was like a social justice warrior type of person. She was like, I was up at 3:00 AM online because I couldn't sleep. I saw this post and I got so angry about it.
Kirk Parsley: It's like somebody on social media was wrong and I had to fix it.
Ted Ryce: I feel like the jokes are funny about it. I think most of us, even some of those people, they got to laugh at themselves sometime, but the deeper sort of situation in here is we're dealing with all this stress. I'm talking about pre COVID. Now we have the COVID stress.
Kirk Parsley: This new cycle that especially in America. I know you're not in America right now, but this new cycle of COVID is going to kill you. Now there's this variant that's going to kill you. Now climate is going to kill you, racism is going to kill you. Sexism is going to kill you. Homophobia is going to kill you. Like everything's going to destroy. Everything's falling apart. Carry on. Like have a great life.
Ted Ryce: They don't give you solutions.
Kirk Parsley: The economy's about to collapse, inflation. If this president wins, we're all going to die. If that president wins, we're all going to die. Like everybody, they're just thriving on this fear cycle. Because it just leads to people not being able to think.
Like I said, when you're in fight or flight, you don't think, and what's more Pavlonian than that just keep hitting the refresh and scrolling that newsfeed. You're looking for that dopamine hit to tell you that everything's going to be all right. But you just keep getting more stress, response, more amygdala stimulation.
Oh, here's something else that's wrong. Oh, here's another harbinger of something really terrible about to happen. Oh, here's another awful thing somebody did to someone else.
It's the most unhealthy thing in the world, man. I mean, I think there are a lot of benefits to technology, but this has always been the case.
It's always kind of gotten out of hand and then it gets reigned back in, becomes more responsible.
This happened with rural electrification it happened with the highway systems. It happened with all telephones, it happened with cable television, everything just goes too far and gets reigned back in. Hopefully this gets reined back in pretty quickly because there have definitely gone way too far at this point.
Ted Ryce: What we're talking about, a lot of it we have to keep our shit together while it's being reigned in while, culture shifts back and forward. The only control I feel like we really have over it, is like, okay, well what can I do?
How can I take care of myself and certainly if you want to participate in the world being a better place, making sure your prefrontal cortex is working so that you're making decisions based on evaluating data and not being emotionally driven by something that could be out of context or, not having all the information and you can take this and this doesn't matter what side you're on, by the way.
Or if you're in the middle where I kind of feel like I am, but it doesn't matter where you are. This is a more fundamental. What we're talking about here is the fundamental, like you said, the contract that you're born into, you don't get to control how this works.
They don't give you instructions for your Macs, but there's like a whole thing that I could go and figure out how to use my Mac better and go to the genius bar and all that. But with human beings, we don't really get, we don't really get trained in school, like how to take care of our bodies and the importance of sleep, or if we do, it's very rudimentary and maybe not the best information.
Kirk, I think a good question is what are some really important signs. I want to preface my question by saying this. I remember talking to a doctor I was seeing in in Miami, we were talking about a patient he had, and he was asking her about her anxiety or stress or whatever. She said, what are you talking about? I'm not stressed at all.
What he pointed out to her was, well you've been chewing on your lip the entire time. We're lacking awareness about it. We think we're not stressed. I don't feel stressed. In fact, I said this earlier in speaking about, I saw teeth indentations in my lower lip, and I'm unconscious.
Even though my life is pretty good, by the way, and you know but what are some things that a person needs to pay attention to some warning signs like, Hey, my stress or my sleep, or both are just out of whack. What are some things, some common like, oh, I need to do something about this. This is a red flag.
Kirk Parsley: The unfortunate side of that is, that the unfortunate aspect of this answer is that stress can simulate any symptoms, anything. Visual changes, taste and smell changes, stomach aches, weakness, fatigue, headaches, diarrhea, vertigo. Like it doesn't matter.
Anything. Stress can simulate anything. I feel safe in saying that if you haven't been working actively working, have some significant training to lower your stress hormones and maintain good autonomic control throughout the day. If you haven't been training for that for three to five years, your stress, isn't as good as it could be.
I think the more direct question, the more helpful thing is to just focus on sleep, because we know nothing will lower your stress hormones more than sleeping well, and then having a well rested brain will allow your brain to function better the next day.
When your brain functions better, the next day, you will be less likely to stress out over things. Because really what stress means is either you feel like something is happening right now that you can't handle, or that what's happening right now is a sign that something is about to happen, that you can't handle.
The more capable you feel, the better your brain is working and the more healthy, energetic you feel, and your brain is functioning. You can remember, you can solve problems. You can predict. The more capable you feel, the less stress you're going to have the next day.
The first thing I would say, now the easy academic answer is test your heart rate variability. You can find out if your heart rate variability is super low. It's almost certainly from stress. There are a few cases where it could be parasympathetic dominant, but almost certainly it's sympathetic dominant. We can talk about that in a minute if you want.
But I tell everybody, if you aren't going to sleep at approximately the same time every night, and you aren't waking up at approximately the same time every day without the need for an alarm clock -now, I don't necessarily recommend not having an alarm clock - but you're going to wake up within 20, 30 minutes of that alarm, whether you have an alarm clock or not, unless that's true, then your sleep isn't optimized.
Let's go for the biggest, hammer first. The biggest thing you can do to not only lower your stress hormones and improve your performance, what else does sleep do? It's appetite regulator, right? And it affects insulin sensitivity and it affects fuel partitioning.
If it's really good for your nutritional status to just get better sleep. Exercise, same thing, better rested you are, the better repaired you are, the better your hormones are balanced. The stronger you are, the faster you are, the more enduring you are. So your exercise is more beneficial for you and then stress mitigation. Again, you're trying to control your stress. You're trying to control your brain. You're trying to control your ruminative thoughts about what could possibly go wrong.
These are all stress provoking things, the better your brain's working, the better you can control those things. The fewer stress hormones you have, the better you can control those things.
The first thing is optimized sleep, because it affects the other three pillars of health equally. Do that first. Once you say, well I'm spot on with my sleep. I know that I can basically go to sleep about the same time every night. I feel really well rested. I wake up, within about 30 minute window, the same every day. Okay. Now I believe your stress is under control.
Now let's find something specifically. You tell me, what is the performance detriment that you have.
What isn't going quite right for you, do you have a little more fat than you like? Let's handle that individually. Do you feel more emotional than you like? Let's talk about that. But the foundation first is to get the sleep in order.
After that I would go by symptomatology of like, whatever it is about your life that isn't working.
One of my friends has this great quote. He says, everything in your life, that's inconsistent with your goals will reveal itself over time. At some point something you're doing, doesn't work for where you want to go. What is that? Let's work with that one-on-one.
Maybe that's a nutritional area issue. Maybe that's a stress control mitigation, maybe something we can fix it. Maybe that's something about your exercise routine who knows, like that could be a vitamin mineral deficiency.
Like let's, let's dig into it when we find out what it is that isn't working for you.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. Great advice. Another thing I don't know, talking about this sympathetic and parasympathetic is measuring HRV if we should go down that route. You probably know Dr. Mike. Oh my gosh. I can't remember his last name right now. But doctor, I just call him Dr. Mike.
Kirk Parsley: Is it the PhD from university of Texas?
Ted Ryce: I think that's him. Yeah. He's got a PhD. I don't remember what university he was from, but he's having to HRV and HRV training.
Kirk Parsley: I have a very simplistic way of explaining this. I think your audience will dig. You have this autonomic because we like to use words that people don't understand, job security, just think of it as automatic.
It's controlling my heart rates, controlling my blood pressures, controlling my kidney function, my liver function, like all this stuff is being controlled by a nervous system that I'm not aware of. It has a part that slows things down essentially. It has a part that speeds things up essentially. Sympathetic. Think of S for speed, speeds everything up.
Parasympathetic slows you down. It's really that easy. Like we call the parasympathetic, the rest and digest and the sympathetic, the fight or flight, which is like that maximum stress somebody's shooting at you. Just got in a car crash, get in a fist fight, wild animal chasing you.
That's fight or flight maximum, maximum sympathetic tone. Your heart has a note in it that causes your heart to beat with no input from anything else. It'll just beat on this note. That beat is going to be around 40 to 45 beats per minute. You know, it's a pretty slow pace, but it will keep you alive.
Now this doesn't need input from your nervous system. It's just going to keep doing his thing. You can sever your spinal cord right below your neck and your heart will keep going. There's no sets that's really slow rate.
Now you always have some sympathetic tones. Because stress hormones keep you alive. They get this bad rap for like this negative word stress, but they keep you alive. You can't be alert and awake and pay attention to your environment without some stress hormones.
Some stress hormones are always going to be in your body and they're going to cause your heart rate to beat faster sometimes because there's going to be a lot of these stress hormones going away around and depending on when the heartbeat, the blood flow passes the node how much adrenaline is in that or whatever.
There's a lot of variability, but like every now and then that node is going to fire a little faster because the stress hormones are causing the heart to beat, instead of just the programming of that node, instead of that node firing it, the stress hormones caused it to fire. it beats faster that time.
If you have the heart rate of 60 beats per minute, it's not one beat every second. Sometimes it's a little before the second. Sometimes a little after the second.
That's heart rate variability, if I can't predict, if my heart's going to beat two tenths of a second before that second or two tenths of a second after that second, and it's going to vary back and forth, that's a lot of variability. That's a high heart rate variability, which means I have sympathetic tone going in there.
My parasympathetic tone going in there too. My slow parasympathetics, it's going to just keep my heart beating at a pretty slow rate. Sympathetics are just going to make it beat faster.
Sometimes, sympathetic make it beat faster, sometimes the parasympathetic make it beat slower. That's balanced high heart rate variability. Now, if I'm super stressed, my stress hormones cause it to beat every time. Even if it's not fast, it's always fiery and it's right on the second.
Now I'm beating 60 beats per minute, right on it. I have a heart rate variability of zero. Now these are extremes. Neither one of those cases happen, but that's what you're looking at.
That's the balance between this automatic nervous system in our body, the parasympathetic it's trying to slow you down and get you to chill out, lay on the couch, eat some nachos and sleep or this parasympathetic like let's get after it and do important, scary things.
Those balance, if you have a high heart rate variability, that means that your nervous system is balanced, which means you can go train and you can stress your body, and you know that you're not sort of over-training and damaging yourself. But it also means that your brain is functioning the best that it can.
Your prefrontal cortex is going to be shut down. If your heart rate variability is low, your problem solving skill is low. Your concentration is low, your emotional control is low, your communication abilities are low because your prefrontal cortex does all of that stuff. It's impaired by stress hormones.
Ted Ryce: Such a great answer there. Yeah. I love how you simplified it. You've had some practice. A lot of practice simplifying this stuff. It's great. Understanding there's that balance in HRV is okay. Are, are both sides working well together?
Or do you have less variability because your stress hormones are high and your your heart is really beating consistently without that variability that's indicative of that other side, that rest and digest parasympathetic side.
Kirk, I use an Oura ring. It gives me HRV, but Mike pointed out when he was on the show, you're not taking it at the same time. If you're sleeping for six hours, I know we're not supposed to do that Kirk, or we're sleeping with eight hours, the data's off, it's not consistent data. He recommended taking it with a different app.
What do you think in terms of measuring? Do you like them to measure, do you like to track, do you like the Oura? What do you like now for people to get some type of solid data to make a decision about, okay, is this something that I really need to work on or not?
Kirk Parsley: Well, so for me and I have clients that range all over the board, right? I have clients that don't have any interest in technology whatsoever. They founded the garbage truck, waste disposal of the city they live in and they're over edge. But know a thing about anything technological and they don't care. Like they get trucks to their locations, they buy and sell stuff and buy real estate and all that.
And then I have people that are like super techie, man. You know, they run a digital marketing agency and they know every device that comes out and they get, their buddies that work in the industry that get them the prototype of everything that's come out and they just love technology.
I don't care. I'm completely agnostic. What I tell people is you have to be able to track it. I care about consistency more than I care about accuracy. Whether or not your aura ring is more or less accurate than a Garmin watch or an apple watch, or, one of the programs in your mattress or your iPhone. Like, I don't care. Like I really don't care.
You know, I'm not going to diagnose a sleep disorder off of some home tracking unit. What I care about is consistency. All these things are algorithm based when they're telling you if you've done well or done poorly, I wouldn't pay any attention to that.
Like I said, if you can go to bed around the same time every night and wake up about the same time every day, and you wake up feeling refreshed and you feel great and you're aura or gives you a score of 80%, well, that's your ideal.
A hundred percent probably isn't going to be better for you. A hundred percent is going to fit their algorithm better. But it doesn't mean that it's going to be better for you. For you, it's just consistency. Is my heart rate variability getting progressively better?
Is it getting progressively worse? Is it aligning with the times that I know I'm under stress? That's useful information. I wouldn't care about the accuracy as much as I can care about the consistency.
If you wear the ring every day, if you wear the ring every night, you'll do that, we're going to get consistent data, that's what we care about. It's like, I'm worried that I'm not getting asleep. All right. We fixed that. Now I'm worried I'm not recovering well enough, so I want to check my heart rate variability.
Well, if it's only 80% accurate, but it's consistent we know every day, the best I ever get is around here. Okay. Well, you know what consistently gets you to the best? We can start playing around with your exercise.
We can play around with your stress mitigation during the day we can play around with nutrition, but there's all sorts of stuff we can play around with at that point, if you know that your sleep's on. Like I said, I have clients that they journal. I say, write down what time you go to sleep, write down what time you wake up, write down anything you remember happening in the night, write down how you feel.
Then before you go to bed, the next day, just kind of write down it can be a one-sentence just like generally, how did you feel that day? Was that a good, a high-performing day, a poor performing day? Did you write? That's it.
They do that and it's consistent. If they'll be consistent with it, that's just as useful for me as if you have a Garmin and an Omega and the Oura, and you run it all through seven computer filters and AI. It's the same amount of information for me.
It's really just a matter of paying enough attention to track it, being insistent about tracking it. The nuances will reveal themselves.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, thanks for that. I tend to be a little bit to promotional about the Oura even though I don't, I don't have any affiliate relationship with them.
Kirk Parsley: I love the product. I think it's the most accurate product out there because it's the only one that measures arterial blood, as far as I know. Because it's so close to the skin, you can get arterial and because there's really no fat and the crease of your finger doesn't take much energy.
It samples more frequently, and it goes arterial. Which is just a higher quality of measurement. I know Harpreet, well, the founder of the company. I'm a big fan of it. They don't make it in my size. I don't wear one. I tried wearing a pinky ring for a while and it just annoyed me.
Ted Ryce: Dude how tall are you?
Kirk Parsley: I'm only six one, but I have a big feet and big hands, man. I wear a 14 ring and they make a 13, whatever I wear a 14 shoe and a 14 rings. Maybe I'm symmetrical. I don't know. Yeah. John Welbourne's the same way. He's my NFL buddy that I workout out here. We both had breakfast with Harpreet. We're like, come on, man. They're like, dude we give these rings to athletes all over the world. Nobody needs a 14.
Ted Ryce: That's a huge foot size, man.
Kirk Parsley: Yeah. I was definitely supposed to be taller. I'm sure. 14 on six one is just ridiculous looking. My son has a 16, but probably like 6"5. It doesn't look that different. Everyone in my family is really tall. I'm the shortest one. Besides my oldest son, he got completely genetically robbed. I have no idea how to happen. He's just by far the shortest person on either side of either family for generations. I don't know what happened. I did my part.
Ted Ryce: Important takeaway if you wear a size 14 for ring forget about the Oura.
Kirk Parsley: You can do the pinky. The pinky, they had plenty of room. There's a significant size different there. I think my pinkie was only like 11 or something, so that works fine, but I just, it was annoying. It was something I could never quit paying attention to. Like it was always on my head, now, like when you wear a watch, you forget, you have a watch on, but like that I could never forget I had it on and it was always affecting me.
Ted Ryce: There you go. Might exclude, some of you from getting the Oura, but it's endorsed by doc. Parsley as well.
Kirk man, thanks so much for today. I feel like we've covered so much. Although I feel like we could easily cover a lot more.
Kirk Parsley: Well, you've got my number. We can always do another one.
Ted Ryce: Let's do it. We'd love to, I love to speak to you.
Kirk Parsley: Get your audience to throw questions out there too. We'll try to answer, what your audience wants to hear as well as what we want to talk about. More than happy to do it, brother.
Ted Ryce: I would love that. Let me not throw in too many things, perhaps, because I want to promote you right now. If you are a person by the way and you're feeling run down and listening to biohacking or listening to all the podcasts.
I can't come up with a joke right now. It's been too good of a interview. But if you're trying all those things, if you're listening to podcasts and trying to DYI it, and it's just not working go to docparsley.com.
Kirk Parsley: If I could just plug something in there really quick. We didn't get into it, but the most common thing and my experience and I've been coaching people and helping people sleep for 12 years now. By far, the most common I run into is stress. People have too high stress hormones.
They're a little too stressed when they're going to sleep. It relates to that cycle I was talking about earlier. I have, if you go to docparsley.com/stress, I have a downloadable PDF on there. It would take me an hour to explain it. But a downloadable PDF that will help you control your stress around bedtime and minimize the amount of stress you have while you're asleep. Then the daytime is your own bag to figure that out.
Like that's a whole other topic, but it's about sort of setting up your life and routine and the ritualization around sleep and your thoughts around sleep and your thoughts while you're trying to fall asleep. It's a pretty simplistic thing to do, but it takes a little time to set up. But anybody can do it.
You just need a piece of paper and a pen and you can do it. It seems ridiculously simple, but ot's the most powerful tool I have, it's more powerful than hormones or peptides or suplements or, float tanks or H Potter saunas or anything like that.
Like the thing that helps people get to sleep is this silly worksheet. That's free. Check it out. Just go download it.
Ted Ryce: So docparsley.com/stress. Go and get that.
Kirk, thanks so much, man. It's just always great talking to you. You just not only do you know your stuff, but you know how to communicate it in a way where we can understand. Really appreciate you. Love this story about the SEALs and can't wait until we talk again next time.
Kirk Parsley: My pleasure, I look forward to it. Let's do it soon.
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