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Old 22-09-2006, 19:59   #1
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Watch Schedule of the Future?

1.5 DAYS on, 1.5 DAYS off?

Was flipping through a recent mag (Popular Science??? I'll properly attribute later if anyone's interested, assuming I can find the copy again) and came across an article about a new "wonder drug" they're working on.

Wake Forest scientists seem to have been tinkering with a drug that keeps monkeys up for days, with no obvious side effect. Seems the drugged monkeys also did better on skill tests than monkeys that had a full night's sleep.
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Old 22-09-2006, 20:13   #2
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I dunno about drugs, but I've read about people who have changed their sleep schedules to comfortably only get between 3-4 hours of sleep a day by breaking the sleep up into several short naps spread across the 24 hours period.

From what I read, the transition from the normal schedule to the nap schedule is tough, to say the least, but once you get acclimated, it's apparently a very good schedule.

I've not heard about anyone break the naps into 15 minute pieces, most of them are between 30 minutes and an hour, but if you could get it down to 15 minutes(what I generally hear is the most amount of time you should spend without looking around while on passage), then it might be a good watch schedule, especially for one person, but with 2, it would gurantee that someone would be up all the time, and if you kept the schedule while at anchor, you could easily still keep an anchor watch, if the schedule was comfortable enough to keep going anyway,

I've never had a chance to try it myself, kinda wanted to though.
I might try and set up a sleep schedule to do that soon.
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Old 22-09-2006, 20:40   #3
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I have slept in short naps for most of my life, but I do find as I get older, I enjoy longer periods of uninterupted rest. The one issue I have never heard addressed is the period of time it takes to become fully alert after waking from only a couple of hours of sleep. After a couple of days of up every hour sleep schedules, I find it takes me about half an hour to fully wake up, and be alert enough to not make mistakes. If you plan this sort of watch schedule, you need to factor in that extra time to wake up, as well as the added time to fall back to sleep. Oddly, I find it easy to take long night watches and sleep more during the day.
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Old 23-09-2006, 00:05   #4
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The drug mentioned is probably "Provigil". You can look it up via Google, but it is used for narcolepsy, and had been used to keep people awake and alert for days with apparantly spectacular results in some military studies.

A physician who was lecturing at a "Safety at Sea" seminar mentioned this as something to look for in the future, possibly, but it isn't approved for this use now. He said that in the studies only a few hours of "recharge" time was needed for sleep, in between the 96-hour awake intervals.

I've never tried it, and I don't know if I want to, but it sounds like it might be good to have around in an emergency. And I'm not a doctor, so don't do anything based on what I may have heard!

-Paul
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Old 23-09-2006, 04:09   #5
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One of the many jobs I had years ago was as a long haul truck driver. From experience I can say that just a short nap will make a person alert and functional for several more hours. I knew other drivers who never really slept, only napped.

Not being a physician I can't judge the validity of a drug study with real authority, but my personal opinion is that until the drug has been used for a generation or more can we know it's true effects. DDT was considered safe in the '50s and I recall a recent report on the negative health effects in old age.
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Old 23-09-2006, 06:57   #6
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I'd be very scared of that drug. Sleep does "something" to protect the mind and clear out the cobwebs. Using a drug to deprive you of that would probably not have great effects in the long run. I could see using it in a life or death emergency though.

So how is it coming down off that drug anyway? You must sleep for days when you come down, right?

One person who slept in little bursts was Einstein. He never slept through the night, which gave him more time to work on physics.
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Old 23-09-2006, 07:16   #7
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I cant sleep sitting up (airplanes) nor do I have a hope of sleeping if its light out. Or if a lights turned on. I think I was born with thin eyelids or something. I have known people who could CatNap ( nuther boat name?) at the drop of a hat, and I have envied them. I am the guy who will go 24, 36, or 48 hours as needed and then crash from sundown til dawn. But no longer than that.
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Old 23-09-2006, 09:58   #8
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Re: Provigil, what the doctor in the seminar said was that there was no need for a long sleep period needed to "recover" from long drug-induced awake periods (at least according to the military tests he had heard about).

I agree, I wouldn't want to be a guinea-pig for this stuff.

I find that with a short-handed crew it takes a couple of days for me to get into the watch schedule. Recently we did two weeks of "four hours on, four hours off", and it wasn't until the third day that I had reached a sufficient level of general exhaustion that I could fall asleep quickly. After that, it worked reasonably well, even considering that during my "off" time I was still handling communications and navigation, and generally on-call as needed.

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Old 23-09-2006, 10:40   #9
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Pura Vida, I also spent many years driving long haul. My sleep habits were of great benefit, especially back in the days when you could still get away with a few things. That is where I made the observation about waking up. I had one specific occasion that illustrates the point. I had been on the road for a number of days, and was driving a particularly boring stretch. I started to nod, so I pulled over by a gas station, got a candy bar and a soda, and thought I would just lay over the wheel for 10 or 15 minutes. I woke up after about 10 minutes, and felt pretty good. Did my walk around, and was ready to go, but for one minor problem, I couldn't remember where I was. I finally made the decision to start driving until I could get my bearings. I drove about 2 miles in the opposite direction of the freeway before I was actually awake enough to remember where I was. I was awake, and for the next 4 hours, until I got to my destination, I was not nodding, and was fine, but it was that first 15 minutes where not all of the cylinders were firing.
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Old 23-09-2006, 13:31   #10
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I've done my sahre of long hauls as well. Isn't it strange (and a little disconcerting) when you have driven for sometime and suddenly realise you have passed through an area, but can't remember doing it. I have that happen several times. One being a particular tunnel on the trip. Absolutely no recolection of going through it. But the one that scared me the most was the day I suddenly "woke to the fact" that I had gone through a major major intersection without remembering it. I have no recolection of it or if I had stopped at it or anything. Now that sobers you up real quick. (no I had not touched a drop of Alchohol)
But aside from that one, I had been in a very stressful job once and I remember driving for a short distance and then suddenly thinking, ummmm where am I supposed to be going to???? That's when I knew it was time to move on from that job. Hmmmmm, come to think of it, I have had many stressful jobs. Maybe I should retire.
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Old 23-09-2006, 16:03   #11
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With all the research I'd still say "we" know nothing material about sleep. We may have no conciousness and no motor skills (or even "night terrors" because we have conciousness AND paralysis) but somehow...most or all of use still process data while we are asleep.

There are times when I'm dead to the world, but other times when I will briefly wake at any change in the wind or weather, process it, and promptyl drop back asleep if there's no reason to make changes.

Until the docs have a better grasp on what's really going on, and what the importance of it is, I think I'd rather not be the guinea pig. It's sailing, not combat.
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Old 23-09-2006, 18:04   #12
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It sounds as though this stuff might have a place in the med kit, along with the seasickness suppositories and other things that you hope you never have to use. In my case, I would hope that I could always manage to plan trips with enough foresight that its not grueling for the crew. But what if what was once a comfortable, easygoing daytime watch schedule got impacted by a tragedy, or storm, or equipment failure, or political situation...I am thinking that if I absolutely HAD to stay awake another day and night, with no other options, perhaps being able to reach in for an emergency stay-awake pill would be a very useful option to have in the old rucksack.

sure would be better than being the last man standing, and falling from exhaustion. that drug could save lives, and boats, in some circumstances.
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Old 23-09-2006, 19:12   #13
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Kai and Wheels, Been there and it is scarry. One time I drove from Blythe to Ranger Texas stopping only for fuel. I remember Blythe and Pheonix and giving up the truck in Ranger. Can't remember where I got fuel, maybe Wilcox, I just remember being at the pumps. Right now I'm installing a full enterprise system and I'm sleeping 3 hours night one and crashing for seven night two. I"m way too old for this. But I think that Canibull has the right idea with this new medical technology. Keep it in the kit and if push comes to shove you have it when you need it. I would get bored at the helm after several hours anyway. Of course I can do the same thing with Claritin D. That stuff keeps me up for ages.

By the way this is coming from the boat and I'm using a Sprint Merlin card on Galveston bay... almost broadband.
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Old 23-09-2006, 20:15   #14
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"I am thinking that if I absolutely HAD to stay awake another day and night, with no other options," Let's say, with adrenalin you can pull a 30-hour day or 36-hour day. I think many folks have done that at some point. So with the drug...what would you get? Another ten hours? Or, a reaction to the drug? Or, the temptation to push it twice to get through 48-60 hours?
Dunno, I can see some use, but then a fuzzy line into "would coulda shoulda" and all that stuff kicks in. Not to mention, the size the med kit can grow to.<G>
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Old 24-09-2006, 00:13   #15
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PV, I could tell you stories that would make your hair stand on end, but that is for another day. Suffice it to say, back in the days of multiple log books, and the energy of youth, The Bandit couldn't have gotten his loads there any faster than I did
A very well known sailing writer used to make reference to the use of drugs when approaching land after a long passage. He condoned the use only under the most severe conditions where he had been forced by weather or other circumstances to be awake for a long period of time, and could not stand off to sleep, but was forced to make land with no rest. He considered the trade off of being awake and alert to be worth it.
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