Clara Burns, a 26-year-old graduate student of Biomedical Engineering, crossed the Atlantic in a rowing boat in the spring as part of a team from TU Vienna. Support for the study was provided by Prof. Eugenijus Kaniusas, head of the Biomedical Sensing and Therapy research group at TU Vienna.Various health measures were recorded throughout the 42 day adventure including heart-rate variability and the details are reported here. The team members alternated 3 hours sleeping and 3 hours rowing. One interesting finding was that this schedule over time led to degraded sleep quality. Her body compensated by increasing activity of the parasympathetic nervous system to protect the heart.
Also interesting were some tips learned for what might be done better in future ultra-endurance efforts like this:
- Instead of immediately starting the 3 hour on, 3 hour off rhythm, it might be better to more gradually transition over from a normal day-night rhythm.
- Dr Kaniusas recommends a reward in the middle of the journey to keep spirits up: “Maybe some special, enjoyable activity that lets you celebrate that you’re halfway through the effort and comfort yourself over the realization that there is still a long way to go.”