Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sleep Depriver

Rating: ***

Anti-sleep drugs are becoming a common thing to find in the backpacks of adventure racers or other multi-day sports competitors. The question at hand is, will an anti-sleep drug help or hurt multi-day athletes?

"The performance benefits for an adventure racer taking modafinil would be greater than that of an Olympic weightlifter taking steroids” states Dr.Tarnopolsky, director of a Neuromuscular Clinic. Modafinil (also known as Alertec in Canada) is a commonly used drug by adventure racers who need to stay awake and very alert for long periods of time. The drug allows you to have only 8 hours of sleep, but feel rested and energized almost as if you had slept for 16 hours (the amount of sleep recommended for an adult). The demand for modafinil among the multi-day sport crowd is greatly increasing. The drug has some benefits to it because sometimes it is necessary for survival to stay awake, much like in the situation that Lawrence Foster (four time Eco Challenge competitor) faced. Foster "nodded off" while hanging from the side of a cliff during an adventure race, which potentially could have had some very serious consequences. If he had taken modafinil, this would likely not have happened. Although in reality, the drug (especially used in access) is more harmful than it is helpful. Sleep deprivation can cause severe headaches and a whole host of other medical problems.

Foster himself claims " There's enough damage done to your body in a multi-day race, add this to the damage caused by some new drug and soon it won't be worth racing." I very much agree with Foster and do not think that taking modofinil is wise to take, especially during a long race. I would recommend this article to anyone who is interested in doing and multi-day races, and hopefully the very informative article would discourage them from using "arousal" drugs to improve performance.

Mihell, Conor. "Sleep Depriver". Explore Canada's Outdoor Magazine. July/August 2006 Issue 140. page 16. Print.

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