Study on Sleep Deprivation

28 May 2010

Study on Sleep Deprivation
Race 3 of the Historical Seas Tall Ships Regatta is going to offer a French teacher with the perfect opportunity to further his research on sleep deprivation.  Denis Theunywck is a teacher at the University of Dunkerque specialising in health and sea safety. He has been studying sleep deprivation of solo sailors for a number of years having worked with sailors undertaking the Vendee Globe and the Route de Rhum. 

More recently Denis has started working on sleep deprivation on teams at sea and then a third part of his studies will involve crew on working ships, such as ferries. 

Denis is sailing with his daughter Marie, who is a PHD student, and two Masters students all at the University of Dunkerque, together with Paul Vandoorne, a friend and frequent crew member. Idee Fixe has taken part in a number of Tall Ships Races in the past and over the past few years the vessel has been moving steadily through the Mediterranean, having spent a year in Spain, a year in Sardinia, a year in Malta and is currently enjoying a year in Greece. The possibility to take part in the Historical Seas Tall Ships Regatta was therefore an opportunity not to be missed. 

"I wanted to take part in this race because of the historical aspect of the route and ports and also because it links the old and new Europe," said Denis. "It is also an excellent opportunity for us to continue our research," he continued explaining that each crew member will need to complete a series of tests on a computer before they go to sleep and then again on waking. At the end of the race, Denis will then be able to convert the material using a mathematical formula. 

"We work closely with Spokane University in the USA and have done so for the past ten years," explains Denis. "The Americans really like the work we are doing as sailors are prepared to push themselves hard and try to do with less and less sleep and the research is proving very helpful in helping sailors understand how and when to sleep and when they are working at their best and when they are at most risk."

The Idee Fixe crew meanwhile are enjoying their visit to Istanbul and presumably stocking up on their sleep so they can push themselves during the race. 

Pictured are (l to r), Christina Alves, Paul Vandoorne, Marie Theunywck, Sorina Cernaianu and Denis Theunywck.

To view the results of races 1 and 2, click here

To see more images from the Historical Seas Tall Ships Regatta in Istanbul, click here.

The Historical Seas Tall Ships Regatta is organised by Sail Training International.


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