Ep83: How to Boost Your Cognitive Performance with Sleep (according to a Navy Seal) | with Dr. Kirk Parsley

Without question sleep is the most important physiological process we require as creative professionals (and humans) to function at an optimal level…yet it’s what our work culture prioritizes the least. Proper sleep slows the aging process, keeps us lean, restores our immune system, and it protects our memory. Much to the chagrin of ‘Type A’ over achievers, quality sleep is every bit as important as oxygen, food, and water.

So then why do we proudly wear our “Sleep Deprivation Badges of Honor” on our sleeves and work ourselves to death even though every bit of research that points to chronic sleep deprivation destroying our ability to cognitively function at a level higher than being chronically drunk at work.

Today’s guest is no stranger to the detriments of sleep deprivation. Dr. Kirk Parsley is a physician for the Navy Seals and a former Navy Seal himself. And there are quite possibly no two professions on the planet better known for chronic sleep deprivation than being a Seal or being a doctor. Having experienced firsthand the negative effects of chronic sleep deprivation, Kirk has now become and advocate for the health benefits of sleep and is now a world-renowned sleep expert who travels the world evangelizing sleep, wellness, and hormone optimization.

Before you considering sacrificing “just a couple hours” of sleep today or this week to get just a little more work done (or to watch just “one more episode”), I encourage you to listen to this interview to better understand not only what sleep deprivation is doing to your creative brain but also more importantly what you can do about it.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • Becoming aware of the negative aspects of the culture of sleep
  • Sleep’s relationship with your hormones
  • The problem with sleep studies
  • Coming to terms with your sleep deprivation
  • Fighting indifference towards your poor sleep habits
  • The unprofitable nature of long-term health practices
  • How to confront your accumulating sleep debt
  • The casual deception of concepts like bio-hacking

Useful Resources Mentioned:

Dr. Kirk Parsley

Our Generous Sponsors:

This episode is made possible for you by Ergodriven, the makers of the Topo Mat, my #1 recommendation for anyone who stands at their workstation. The Topo is super comfortable, an awesome conversation starter, and it’s also scientifically proven to help you move more throughout the day which helps reduce discomfort and also increase your focus and productivity. Click here to learn more and get your Topo Mat.

Guest Bio:


Dr. Kirk Parsley is a former Navy SEAL, a physician for the SEALs, a health & sleep optimization consultant, and performance enhancement coach for some of the most driven achievers on the planet.
Kirk is the creator of the Doc Parsley Sleep Remedy sleep supplement, a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (since 2006), a worldwide expert speaker on sleep, wellness, and hormonal optimization, and the author of the internationally best-selling book, Sleep to Win.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared and published by Elyse Rintelman. The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).

Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”