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OAR Northwest rowers on NBC’s Dateline

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In January 2013, the CWF Africa to the Americas Expedition left the coast of Africa to row across the Atlantic Ocean – propelled entirely by four adventurous Canadian and American men. Their over 3,500 nautical mile journey to the US coast was intended to raise awareness for the Canadian Wildlife Federation while conducting research on both the ocean and themselves along the way.

For this young crew attempting to be the first ever to row across the Atlantic, sleep researchers from the Centre for Sleep and Human Performance in Calgary designed a study to understand sleep, rest, and recovery impacts of the high-volume physical output needed to sustain such a gruelling journey. All four rowers were equipped with Fatigue Science Readibands, which were used to collect data on their sleep quantity, sleep quality and cognitive effectiveness in relation to sleep patterns.

Unfortunately, the waters of the Atlantic were not kind to the OAR Northwest rowers – who found themselves battling more than just fatigue.

This Sunday, April 13th, NBC’s Dateline features ‘Capsized’, sharing the story of the OAR Northwest and their expedition.

Circadian factors in athletic performance

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A new study published in the December issue of the Journal of Sleep has looked at the impact of circadian factors on athletic performance in NFL football players and concluded that those “playing close to the circadian peak in performance demonstrate a significant athletic advantage over those who are playing at other times.”

The researchers acknowledge that even small variations in performance can mean the difference between winning or losing in professional sports and concludes that applying the knowledge of circadian factors is an underused approach which “is likely to enhance human performance”

Fatigue Science Co-Founder, Pat Byrne, reviewed the study and discusses the results in this video:

 

 

Knowing that circadian factors may help your team achieve optimal performance is just part of the equation, how you apply this information is another. Using Readiband to understand a team or athlete’s actual sleep and FAST (Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool) to model game-time performance, trainers and athletes can get the most out of, or more importantly, create their own ‘circadian advantage’.

 

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The study, which is titled: “The Impact of Circadian Misalignment on Athletic Performance in Professional Football Players” was published in the December 2013 Journal of SLEEP. You can view the abstract or download the full study.

Are fatigued referees hurting your favourite team’s shot at a championship?

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The life of a professional referee in the NHL, NBA or world premiere soccer may sound glamorous and fun (the travel! the games!) but the reality is, their schedules can be even more demanding than those of the athletes themselves and may contribute to game refereeing errors and stress.

In 2008 Mike Leggo wrote about a week in the life of an NHL referee. On day one, he leaves his home on the West Coast for a next day game in Washington. “The trip is a demanding four games in five days,” he says, “encompassing Washington, Montreal, Philadelphia, and Columbus…Six nights, seven flights, two countries, thousands of air miles…all in a week in the life of an NHL referee”.

Hockeybuzz.com blog recently interviewed NHL referee, Paul Devorski: “There’s actually quite a bit of travel,” Paul confirms, “It’s hard to do, but they try to travel you around so you get to see every team X amount of times, so that keeps you busy. Our road trips are anywhere from a week to 10 days.” He enjoys the actual experience of game officiating, but admits “Honesty, the travel gets wear and tear on you.”

Fatiguing schedules aren’t just a problem for referees in the NHL. The NBA’s Pat Fraher told RefereeMindset.com that the life of an NBA ref is busy: “Travel is hectic…a different city every 2 days for about 25 days a month.” Last year Dallas Maverick’s owner, Mark Cuban, pointed out that the “stressful travel schedule of the condensed season” might have contributed to the “poor quality of officiating”.  And in UK Premiership soccer, West Ham United manager, Sam Allardyce, stressed that their “referees are travelling all over the country and out in Europe” for the duration of their seasons. He has famously blamed referee fatigue for decision errors during games, “Fatigue is everything in terms of decision making,” he said back in December, “Once it kicks in you lose the ability to make those decisions correctly…They need to ease the load on the referees we have.”

Professional sport teams are starting to take a more analytical look at the ways that training and travel schedules affect their athletes’ fatigue and game time effectiveness, but who is addressing those of the referees when the wrong call can make the difference in a team’s league standing?

Our own Pat Byrne recently spoke to Vancouver’s Team 1040 radio about fatigue management and professional sports, acknowledging the frustrations that team management and players must face when the wrong calls change their game momentum, “You’re doing all the training, you’re doing all the coaching, you’re doing everything you possibly can and then you get a tired official making a dumb mistake…you miss a hand ball, you miss a penalty and you lose a game….It’s fixable” he says.

Factoring sleep into game performance a ‘slam dunk’ for Dallas Mavericks

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We are pleased to announce that 2011 NBA Champions, Dallas Mavericks, will be using our game-changing technology to help manage player fatigue and performance during the hectic NBA season.

“Athletes and trainers understand that timing and consistency of workouts, practice, and nutritional intake is important to the players game performance” says Fatigue Science Founder and VP, Pat Byrne, “they also know sleep is important, but previously they have not had the ability to  measure sleep and fatigue – our technology can not only do that, but analyze the data and provide validated solutions to optimize the teams performance.”

The technology, currently used by the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks as well as other professional teams in the NFL, MLS and Olympics, includes Fatigue Science’s Readibands – a virtually indestructible band that can track micro movements in the wrist to measure sleep and activity, and F.A.S.T. (Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool) – which analyzes data collected from the wristbands to create a customized fatigue avoidance solution. Using the data collected, scientifically-based recommendations will be made for player travel, training and rest period scheduling to mitigate fatigue and maximize reaction time and effectiveness during game play.

ESPN recently reported on some challenges in the Mavericks’ away game schedule this season: “Five of the Mavs’ final seven games are on the road, including a four-game-in-six-night stretch that starts against the two L.A. teams.” It’s the effects of these tough scheduling terms that teams try to mitigate when they look for ways to deal with player fatigue. “Sleep is only one  variable, but perhaps the most important,” Pat Byrne says, “Teams can ensure their players have the opportunity to maximize their performance at game time. Even just 10% loss of effectiveness can make a difference between winning or losing.”

Pat traveled to Dallas this past (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend to train the players and management on the use of the technology. Sports fans and tech watchers can start trying to spot the Readiband on the Mavericks line up in the coming weeks.

Vancouver Canucks post-game coverage: Coach John Tortorella and his Readiband

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We caught new Vancouver Canucks coach, John Tortorella, wearing his Readiband in the post-game coverage after the Canucks pre-season win over the Coyotes on September 23rd.

Between busy game schedules, practice, training and challenging travel requirements it’s not uncommon these days to hear professional athletes and teams declare fatigue as a major factor in poor game performance. Since 2009, the Vancouver Canucks have been using Fatigue Science’s Readiband and FAST (Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool) to manage fatigue and calculate performance at game time. Since that time, the Vancouver Canucks have become one of the best road-game performing teams in the NHL by getting objective scientific data in order to make smarter travel decisions.With a new coach and Readibands on hand, we’re looking forward to seeing what this next season will bring for the Vancouver Canucks in their quest for the Stanley Cup.

 

Performance and sleep: Be at the top of your game

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Your “peak performance” level does not have to be an illusive physical state. Diet and exercise are just two of the three pillars of performance. The third pillar is sleep.

Your performance is directly related to your sleep, and not just the amount, but the quality as well. When the Vancouver Canucks first started working with Fatigue Science, they purchased exclusive rights in the NHL to use the most accurate system available to address this issue. After working with Fatigue Science and using the Readiband for two weeks, there were two key findings:

First, you can dramatically improve your performance as a team on the road if you create a plan to manage fatigue. The plan is only valid if it is based on personalized sleep data.  No two players play the same, the same is true of their sleep in relationship to performance.

Secondly, self-reported sleep data is inaccurate. There are dozens of sleep disorders that exist and many people, including professional athletes, don’t even realize they might be suffering from one.

In a video featured in a recent article by TechVibes, Darcy Hordichuk describes the surprising findings of his team mates on the Vancouver Canucks.

The Vancouver Canucks are not the only ones with a gruelling schedule. In an article published today, the LA Galaxy are clearly facing this common and detrimental problem.

The pressure on professional athletes to perform is immense. There are teams of people managing their nutritional needs and their every move in order to maximize training and performance, but most are missing the biggest piece of the puzzle.