Racing in the Name of Science

The $1,500 Actigraph watch Team Rogue members will be wearing at GODZone to record sleep and activity data.

The $1,500 Actigraph watch each team Rogue member will be wearing to record sleep and activity data.

As some of you may be aware, when I’m not either training for, organising, competing in or writing about adventure races, I have a second life as a medical research scientist, ostensibly to fund my adventure racing habit.  As such, team Rogue will be competing at the GODZone expedition race next week in the name of science.  Each member of the team will be fitted out with a Respironics Actigraph watch – a nifty little device capable of recording measurements of activity, sleep, sleep latency (that is, how long it takes to fall asleep) and even light exposure.  The data collected will be used to analyse and quantify the degree of sleep deprivation an athlete is exposed to during the extreme conditions of an expedition adventure race.

Team Rogue training for GODZone in 2014.

Team Rogue training for GODZone in 2014.

Whilst medical researchers have previously used expedition adventure racers as subjects to study the impact of assumed sleep deprivation on parameters such as injury occurrence and cognitive function, no in-depth analysis has been undertaken to quantify the exact extent of sleep deprivation incurred, nor the ensuing effects on sleep recovery post-race.  As such, the four members of team Rogue will be wearing the Actigraphs not only during GODZone, but also for a week before the race to obtain a baseline measure of sleep, sleep latency and activity as well as two weeks after the race to measure sleep recovery.  The team-based nature of adventure racing also provides an excellent control for the case study given the mixed gender of participants in addition to the fact that all team members travel the same route and are exposed to the same environmental stressors during the race.

Data collected will be analysed and prepared for publication in the scientific literature.  For more information on Team Rogue and the GODZone adventure race, refer to the GODZone website which will go live here on March 8th.

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