Sleep or die is a mantra that should resonate in every warfighter’s head. We are terrible at managing our sleep and Dr. Kirk Parsley has seen the damaging effects, first hand, of not getting enough sleep while serving with the U.S. Navy SEALs. Odds are most of you are not getting enough sleep and Dr. Parsley has some solutions for you or at least some simple practices you can do to start optimizing your life through sleep.
Listen to the episode here
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
Doc Parsley isn’t joking when he says that not sleeping will kill you. Approximately 32% of Canadians aren’t getting enough sleep. According to a massive meta analyses of sleep data, all cause mortality goes up nearly double when people get less than their 7 hrs of sleep per night.
According to the study:
“Those who had cut their sleeping from 7h to 5 hours or less faced a 1.7 fold increased risk in mortality from all causes, and twice the increased risk of death from a cardiovascular problem in particular.”
So approximately 10 million Canadians aren’t getting enough sleep and are gonna die a bit earlier – SO WHAT?
I’ve got Netflix and Call of Duty to play, bro!
Effects Of Shitty Sleep
The effects of shitty sleep are widely studied and the good doctor lays it out for ya nice and straight. Having worked with the SEALs allowed him to identify a few key performance indicators that can be solved with better sleep. According to Dr. Parsley, he saw the world’s most elite warriors come to him with all sorts of issues, namely:
- Brain fog;
- Fat gain;
- Increased injury rate;
- Poor emotional and impulse control;
Kirk summarizes it very succinctly as:
“FATTER, COLDER, DUMBER, SLOWER”
Now, this could have easily been misdiagnosed as depression, and granted, all the signs are there but Dr. Parsley postulated that all these co-morbidities could all be related to poor sleep. He decided to take action, having experienced severe sleep deprivation himself, both in the SEALs and in medical school, he developed a sleep protocol for his SEALs.
Low and behold, his SEALs started getting back to their high performance selves.
How To Unfuck Your Sleep
Sleep hygiene is super important and Kirk asks, what would your ancestors have done 100 thousand years ago? Here are the simple habits to implement:
- Put down your phone, nerd (at least 1hr before bedtime)
- Black out your bedroom (no blinking lights or tv)
- Cool down your room to paleolithic cave temperatures (17 dec C)
According to Kirk, if you can do this your sleep quality should improve dramatically. However, don’t be fooled by its simplicity; this is surprisingly hard. I guarantee you’ll make up all sorts of bitchy excuses to not do one of these. I know I do!
“If you need to watch that one more episode on Netflix, go to bed, set your alarm one hour early and watch it…no one is gonna do that. “
This is a great example of your prefrontal cortex not working well and making poor decisions since it works poorer in the evening. Not only that but performance gets worse every single night you short sleep. You can compare people being awake a certain number of hours and have them do a driving test and compare them to impaired drivers and at around 20hrs they’re right on the limit for behaving like they’re impaired. According to Kirk,
“After 11 consecutive nights, your new normal is impaired. There is very strong evidence for this. 19-24 yr olds are 3.5 times more likely to be killed due to drowsy driving than drunk driving.”
Listen to the episode for tons more amazing insights into the world of sleep and let it sink in. What are you going to implement? Are you going to prioritize sleep? I’d love to hear your comments below or in the HRD2KILL Facebook group.
Train Hard, Fight Easy
Dave is a retired infantry officer and Afghanistan war veteran. He’s the creator of the HRD2KILL training program that was built on the principles that got him from not being able to get out of bed to competing in the Crossfit Open, Spartan Races and the Montreal Gaelic Athletics Association. You can find more mobility based exercises in his new book, “The Nimble Warrior”, now available on Amazon or tune into his new HRD2KILL Podcast