Race against the (biological) clock
Singapore 25th September 2010
With the Formula 1 night race upon us in Singapore, it is interesting to note that the European race drivers continue to live on their European time clocks even though the time difference is about 6 to 7 hours. Practice sessions yesterday ended close to midnight as will today’s session and tomorrows actual race. “Locals” head back to their accommodation towards 2 am but the Europeans stay on for a few more hours before they go to bed and then basically sleep through till the early afternoon. It appears the Media Centre is still much abuzz at 3-4 am!
I read that the English pair of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have their own restaurant and chef cook on 24 hour standby. Breakfast is served at lunch time, lunch at dinner time and dinner apparently around 3amm surely serving their prefered English food! It is bright enough on the track site at night so getting the lighting levels high enough to suppress the sleep hormone should be no problem. Lighting levels on the race track are reportedly over 3000 lux…More difficult is to find hotel accommodation that has proper black outs (blinds, curtains) to keep out the morning sunshine and daylight.
We receive most light information through our eyes. Information from the world around us such as shapes, colors, intensity of light, time of the day, etc. We also receive light information through our skin, which allows certain wavelengths to enter our body. These light signals control our biorhythms, regulates our sleep/wake cycle, influences our blood pressure, body temperature, our appetite but importantly for top performers such as the F1 racers their physical strength, their nervous system, their reaction time and mind fitness. So one can understand their wish to minimize any disruption to their biorhythms.
On another note I just heard about the safe return of 3 astronauts from the Russian international space station after a 6 months stay in space. They would have faced similar issues of day and night time lighting control. However they have another issue which is called micro-gravity. Apparently when you stay without gravity for prolonged times you face bones and muscles loss that even hard core exercise do not help compensate…
When it comes to light and the F1 racers it’s definitely a race against the clock, your biological clock that is… 🙂