Dr Claudio Stampi: Alertness, Performance & Sleep Optimisati

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Dr Claudio Stampi: Alertness, Performance & Sleep Optimisati

Postby OSmod » 15 Mar 2011 00:35

This piece makes fascinating reading (includes a sales pitch for the Chronobiology Research Institutes Services). And is reprinted in full here.

Dr Claudio Stampi: on Alertness, Performance & Sleep Optimisation

In 1960 Sir Francis Chichester won the first edition of the Observer Single-handed Transatlantic Race (OSTAR) in 38 days. Four decades later, sailing almost 2.5 times as fast as Chichester, Ellen MacArthur won the same race in less than 15 days. In round the world races the trend has been even steeper. Robin Knox-Johnston won the first solo non-stop contest, in 1969, in a time of 313 days, while in the 2004-05 Vendée Globe it took Vincent Riou’s only 87 days to circumnavigate the globe.

These remarkable achievements stem from radical improvements in yacht design and construction, electronics, communications and navigation technologies. Growing media attention has fostered investment in ocean races and demand for highly skilled and professional skippers. As a result, the yacht racing scene became ferociously competitive. Solo races such as The Transat (as the Ostar is now renamed), the Vendée Globe, or the Route du Rhum routinely see the participation of dozens of state-ofthe-art 60-foot monohulls and sometimes multihulls, most of them serious contenders. Today, to win a race it is no longer enough to sail the fastest boat in the market, secure a highly professional team, and be masters in sailing technology and strategy. To gain a truly competitive edge, skippers must focus on their own “design specs”, also known as human factors. Races are won by those sailors capable of handling their own resources – of skill, stamina, determination – wisely.

The key human factor in these long contests is proper management of alertness, sleep and rest. Sleep is a fundamental variable in performance, as critical for the sailor as the fuel of a Formula-1 car. Working day and night to optimize boat performance and speed, survey competitors' tactics, study meteorological reports, avoid collisions with icebergs, obstacles and other vessels, skippers are strongly tempted to cut their sleep to below the absolute minimum. Most people believe they can judge their own fatigue - but this is not always the case. Subtle symptoms of sleep deprivation, such as cognitive slowness, errors in judgment, impaired decision-making, often occur before the feeling of fatigue becomes apparent. One can
be dangerously sleep-deprived and not even know it.

It happened to Jean Luc Van Den Heede in the 1994 BOC Round the World Race, when he snatched a five minute nap at the helm and woke up with his boat on the beach. He was a lucky man as this is the only stretch of sand for miles around in South-western Australia. With the help of locals, he was able to re-float the vessel and continue. Lucky enough to save his life but not his legendary trimaran, in 2005 a sleepy Francis Joyon destroyed IDEC on the rocks of Cape Penmarc’h, just hours after setting the fastest time for a single-handed transatlantic crossing. Indeed, sleep deprivation is considered a primary or contributing factor in countless accidents, some fatal, in past races.

While until recently sleep was considered – at best – an important safety issue, and at worst simply wasted time when you lost ground to your competitors, today the scene has changed radically. Top skippers now fully understand that proper training in fatigue management is an essential weapon in their arsenals. Like Ellen MacArthur. In her meticulous preparation for the 2000-2001 Vendée Globe – the foundation of her subsequent successes – Ellen realized that to gain a competitive edge she would need to become a sleep specialist well ahead of the race. For over one year prior to the Vendée, the Chronobiology Research Institute (CRI) in Boston has worked with Ellen on a dedicated, four-phase sleep and fatigue management training program, adopting the Institute’s methodologies (below). On her first “practice” race in 2000, Ellen was the first woman and the youngest (24) winner of the single-handed transatlantic race. After arriving second in the 2000-01 Vendée Globe (monohull), and beating the round the world solo record (trimaran), she became – and still is – the youngest and fastest yachtswoman to race around the world in any category. Physiological data collected during these events has shown that she observes a remarkably judicious sleep discipline, especially under emergencies. Precisely when skippers are tempted to go without sleep for 24, 48 or even 72 hrs – and risk paying a life-threatening penalty – Ellen manages to catch a series of micro-naps. Our data shows that she never slept less than 1.5 hrs during each of the 94 and 71 days (respectively) of the mentioned non-stop, round-the-world events. CRI has conceived a comprehensive solution to management of fatigue during single-handed to fully crewed offshore races. Based on research and methods adopted in industrial, space and aeronautical settings, the Alertness, Performance and Sleep Optimization Program provides skippers and teams with the knowledge and tools which substantially contribute to their safety and maximize their efficiency. While methods may include sophisticated sleep monitoring technologies, the principles of the program are simple. Our role is to guide sailors through a discipline of self-observation and discovery to explore, understand, and then capitalize on, their natural sleep, circadian (twenty-four hour) and alertness patterns. We help them maximize their performance by tapping into, and optimizing, their own strengths, become aware of their limitations, know when and were the risks of fatigue are, and how to combat them. When this incremental and self-empowering process is completed, our clients become specialists in the art of alertness management.

The Institute’s research and development has also introduced wireless bio-monitoring, a new way of communicating and sharing the athletes’ human factors with shore management teams, but also the media, public, and sponsors. A state of the art wearable technology (a miniature armband) allows quasireal time transmission of sleep, performance, energy consumption and other bio-data via satellite. Content-rich charts with expert commentary are posted on the skippers, sponsors, and event websites. The public may now finally appreciate and understand what makes skippers capable of highly effective multitasking and throughput with minimal sleep per day. This interactive witnessing of how the human mind and body operate at the extreme represents, after all, the essential element of the adventure. It generates event visibility, promotes education on a subject of primary importance even for non-sailors, and expands media and public attention. This tele-medical monitoring procedure is also an important safety initiative. Event organizers and shore teams will know when and if competitors' alertness or performance levels are dangerously low, and appropriate countermeasures can be communicated promptly to skippers via satellite. One among many applications of such technologies is alertness routing – 24-hr monitoring and assistance of skippers to maximize their alertness, energy expenditure, and competitive edge. An extremely useful tool in races where outside assistance is permitted (like the ORMA circuit, Transat Jacques Vabre, Route du Rhum), in recent solo round-the-world record attempts alertness
routing has proven as indispensable to long distance racing as weather routing has been for many years. While proper sleep and alertness management training is an obvious essential component in singlehanded sailing campaigns, these human factors tools are quickly becoming a competitive must in professional crewed long distance events, such as the Volvo Round the World Race, The Race or the Jules Verne Record. Chronobiological principles and programs are also applicable for much shorter events -- albeit extremely competitive and stressful -- like match racing or the America’s Cup. For each of these situations the issues, methods and goals will vary, but the common denominator remains essentially the same: the objective is to identify and employ work, rest, and training strategies and practices that will maximize each individual crew member’s performance and alertness characteristics and skills.

The Alertness, Performance and Sleep Optimization Programs are directed by Dr. Claudio Stampi, Founder and Director of the Chronobiology Research Institute in Boston, USA, and now also in Rome, Italy. The Institute conducts research on human alertness, performance, biological rhythms and sleep, and runs Alertness and Safety Assurance programs to minimize human error, promote safety, and enhance productivity for individuals, corporations and organizations involved with round-the-clock and shift-work operations.

In addition to being a recognized expert in sleep, biological rhythms, and alertness research and solutions, Claudio Stampi is highly familiar with the requirements and constraints of sailing enterprises, having participated himself in two around the world races, including the 1981-82 Whitbread as skipper of La Barca Laboratorio. He is the pioneer of polyphasic sleep strategies and of research in this field, having studied sleep patterns of hundreds of skippers in oceanic competitions since 1980. The knowledge and wealth of information gained by Stampi and his team from these and other studies has been applied in a variety of occupational programs, including a project commissioned by NASA to design and study ultrashort sleep strategies for emergencies in space missions. Stampi has published over 100 academic papers, including the book Why we Nap: Evolution, Chronobiology, and Functions of Polyphasic and Ultrashort Sleep (Birkhauser, Boston).

We have developed Alertness Optimization Programs for skippers and crews competing in the most demanding solo to fully crewed ocean races. The programs are tailored for a variety of solo racing scenarios such as The Transat, Vendée Globe, Route du Rhum, Solitaire du Figaro, Mini-Transat, or
crewed like the Transat Jacques Vabre, BT Challenge, The Volvo Round the World Race, Trophée Jules Verne or The Race.

The objectives of the Alertness Optimization Programs include:

• Conducting alertness and sleep management training programs for skippers and crews participating in
demanding sailing competitions
• Competitors are guided to mastering the fundamentals of the science of human alertness
• They learn how to identify and successfully combat the risks of fatigue impairment
• They understand how to enhance and optimize performance effectiveness
• Their physiological sleep-wake, alertness and circadian profiles are studied and identified
• Practical work-rest scheduling solutions are designed to maximize the sailors’ individual biological
• Sleep-wake and alertness are monitored during the races to provide alertness routing assistance,
and/or to generate daily sleep charts and commentary to be posted on campaign websites and
distributed to the media

To achieve these objectives, we have designed a four-phase approach: foundation, assessment, practice training, and alertness monitoring. The principles of this program are based on our two-decade experience in fatigue management and research in industrial, space, air and marine operations. Adopting the latest methodology and technologies, the program begins several months prior to the start of the target event. This allows competitors to arrive at the start line fully prepared in alertness, sleep and fatigue management.

In Phase 1 (Foundation), participants follow an intensive workshop (usually one to two days) on the science of human alertness and fatigue management. This workshop sets the foundation for better understanding the biological, behavioral and operational components of alertness and sleep. It includes the design of a specific assessment and training program based on the skippers’ previous experience and on their objectives. Specifically, the workshop aims are:

• Provide competitors with the basic knowledge and tools of fatigue management, including:
• Fundamentals of sleep-wake, alertness and circadian regulation
• State-of-the-art solutions and techniques for optimizing performance and alertness
• Polyphasic and multiple napping strategies
• Early detection of subtle signs and effects of sleep deprivation, and countermeasures
• Overview of current strategies employed in a variety of ocean races
• Methods to empower participants to manage fatigue risks
• Examine and discuss pros and cons, costs and benefits of work-rest schedules and patterns
previously adopted by the competitors
• Evaluate possible strategies for the upcoming race(s)
• Conduct detailed interviews with the competitors about their sleep-wake and circadian history
• Design a specific alertness training program for the upcoming months, with active participation of

In Phase 2 (Assessment), the sailors’ sleep-wake patterns are unobtrusively monitored – using one of our technologies, such as a micro-computer the size of a wrist-watch – ashore as well as during training, racing or other sailing passages. The data are subsequently analyzed to identify their natural alertness, sleep and circadian profiles. Based on the information collected during Phase 2, the elements of a specific sleep and alertness training program are defined in detail at this point.

Phase 3 (Practice-Training) consists of practicing the sleep optimization strategies discussed in Phase 1. During this phase, the competitors’ sleep and alertness patterns are monitored with our technology and subsequently analyzed at CRI. At the completion of each data analyses phase, we review with competitors their sleep management strategies and identify possible optimization solutions.

In Phase 4 (Alertness Monitoring/Routing) – during the actual race – competitors have the opportunity to employ the tools and strategies mastered during the program. We provide equipment and software for sleep-wake and other bio-data monitoring and transmission. Competitors’ data are transmitted at regular intervals from onboard to CRI headquarters via satellite link. CRI staff will analyze the data, monitor fatigue and performance status, and – race rules permitting – provide feedback and advice to competitors (alertness routing). This interactive procedure also allows posting the competitors’ sleep and bio profiles, with expert commentary, in near-real time in their websites. This generates great visibility and contributes
to attract and expand media and public attention. Indeed, sleep and fatigue are subjects the general public can easily relate to. For non-sailing fans, the sleep issue might draw them to follow an event they would otherwise ignore.

The Alertness Optimization Programs for extreme sailing contests generate invaluable knowledge and scientific information, which is being fed back into a variety of occupational and industrial settings. Indeed, the problems of fatigue, alertness impairment and sleep deprivation faced by offshore sailors are not substantially different from those experienced in the workplace. It is estimated that over 20% of the workforce in industrialized countries work some form of night or shift-work. The around-the-clock availability of key services is becoming a necessity in this era of technological innovation and increased automation. Hospitals must be available to handle emergencies, police and firefighters to protect our lives, trains, airplanes, and road vehicles to ensure swift transportation of people and goods across the globe, power plant operators to provide uninterrupted electrical service. In addition, competitive pressures of the global economy are forcing a growing number of organizations and businesses to provide their
services twenty-four hours a day.

However, there is a fundamental conflict between the demands of our modern civilization and the design of the human brain. Our patterns of sleep and wakefulness are governed by internal biological clocks that are elegantly attuned to the rhythms of night and day that belong to an era where humans hunted by day, slept at night, and never traveled more than a few miles from sunrise to sunset. In contrast, we now work, travel by jet to the opposite side of the globe, and make crucial decisions, at all hours of the day and night. Inevitably, with these new challenges comes more risk. It is not a coincidence that the most notorious industrial accidents of our times - Three Mile Island, Bhopal, Chernobyl, the Exxon Valdez - all occurred in the middle of the night or early morning, when operators with high responsibilities were dangerously fatigued. Most transportation accidents are caused by human error, and the leading cause of human error is fatigue. Sleep deprivation leads to as many as 200,000 road accidents each year in the U.S. alone, and results in one-third of all fatal heavy truck accidents. It is estimated that fatigue cost the U.S. economy at least $ 80 billion each year in decreased productivity and accidents.

Contact information: info@ChronobiologyInstitute.org
References (sample):
Individual: Alain Gautier, Brad Van Liew, Ellen MacArthur, Giovanni Soldini, Graham Dalton, Jean
Pierre Mouligné, John Kostecki, Kip Stone, Mark Schrader, Marc Thiercelin, Mark Turner, Matteo
Miceli, Mike Golding, Paul Cayard, Pete Goss, Tommaso Chieffi
Institutional: Canadian Pacific, Illbruck, Matsushita-Panasonic, NASA, Oracle, Pindar, Sleep Research
Society, Schlumberger, Shimizu, Tyco, US Department of Transportation
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