Last November, the well-known French doctor Jean-Yves Chauve gave us advice on how to combat seasickness onboard. This week, he is back with more useful advice about the importance of adequate sleep, especially for racers.
Dr. Chauve is a doctor who specialises in providing remote medical assistance to sailors and boat racers. He was involved in several high-profile cases in which he aided racers via telephone to avoid dangerous health situations.
A doctor’s advice about sleeping onboard
Offshore racers know this from experience: Sleep is a necessity to maintain vigilance. It is imperative for assuring good security and your own physical performance. Tests have proven that after 16 hours without sleep, your level of drowsiness is equivalent to a BAC of 0.5 g. This means that your level of concentration is substantially impaired.
It is therefore very important to have regular periods of sleep when navigating. To sleep effectively, you must be aware that throughout the day, there are times when one is predisposed to sleep. Yawning is a sign that the body sends to indicate that it is ready to sleep. This is the moment when you should try to sleep or take a nap.
How Long should I Sleep?
Sleep duration depends on the constraints of navigation. The ideal length would be to sleep for one a complete sleep cycle, which is from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Otherwise, it can be useful to take short naps for 20 to 30 minutes. Napping regularly can be very effective for a few days. If napping is not possible, then there is the final option of “flash” naps, consisiting of just a few seconds of sleep.
When “real” sleep is impossible, this brief disconnection can allow the brain to de-stress, which is very important when engaging in such a physically demanding activity as navigating.
No matter what, make it a priority to get at least some sleep while onboard. Otherwise your judgement and physical ability will be significantly impaired.