Dr. Kirk Parsley, a former Navy Seal, who helped build the Tactical Athlete Program (Spots Medicine & Performance) for Navy Seals, has some advice for us on sleep:
There is a great correlation between total testosterone and total time in bed.
During deep sleep our bodies secrete testosterone, and growth hormone. These anabolic hormones allow us to recover, changes our cognition, affects our decision making abilities, memory consolidation, motor skills sink in, reduces inflammation (which can lead to chronic injuries).
The problem with sleep drugs is that we aren’t entering deep sleep and getting the benefit of the hormones and the adaptations.
Our Adrenals keep us alert in proportion to what is going on in our environment, in part by secreting cortisol; cortisol helps us to wake up and be alert. When we are in fight-or-flight scenarios, our adrenals kick into overtime and cortisol goes through the roof to make us the most alert we can be to survive.
When we are in deep sleep it is the opposite. We don’t need to respond to our environment. We can shut down our adrenal function, be in the opposite of our “fight-or-flight”, and our body can naturally repair itself and help us to perform optimally.
Dr. Parsley found that by improving sleep (through nutritional changes, sleep hygiene, and other ways described below) he could help guys increase their testosterone by 300%.
A problem for Firefighters, or for anyone that works during the night and sleeps during the day, is lack of sun exposure, which leads to lack of vitamin D3. We have to have adequate levels of vitamin D3 for our bodies to make 5-HTP into Serotonin—Serotonin becomes Melatonin, and melatonin helps turn off our adrenals so we can get good sleep!
When we are Vitamin D3 deficient, we are serotonin deficient (which makes us moody), we are melatonin deficient (which causes sleep issues), and now we are dealing with all of the problems associated with sleep issues.
Stay tuned for Pt. 2: Sleep is the key