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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Sleep...and Cancer

in: Orienteering; Off-Course

Dec 16, 2008 10:12 AM # 
Orienteers often combine exercise with sleep deprivation. 24-hour Rogaines, Night-orienteering, long travel to distant events....

Last month a paper on the effects of exercise and sleep was presented at the Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention entitled Exercise and Rest Reduce Cancer Risk. The study was conducted on women specifically, and found that

1. Regular physical activity can lower a woman's overall risk of cancer, but
2. Lack of sleep can undermine exercise's cancer prevention benefits.

Among women 65 or younger when surveyed, sleeping less than seven hours a day increased overall cancer risk, negating much of the protective effects of physical activity on cancer risk...

Unfortunately there has been no companion study done for men. But it appears that there is a link between poor sleep habits and cancer risk for all of us, beginning at childhood.

A/P has long allowed us to post the amount of sleep in our training logs. But I notice that very few take advantage of this option...most A/P'ers are more concerned about logging their shoes than their sleep. I don't mean to be a nag, but I wonder how many of us monitor the amount of sleep we get, and are just as diligent in correcting poor sleep habits (late bedtimes, excessive coffee, heavy evening meals, etc) as we are in setting PR's and exercising?
Dec 16, 2008 11:45 AM # 
I'll log my sleep as diligently as I log all my training if someone gets me a Sleeptracker Pro.

Seriously, I figure I can only guess the time I fall asleep and the time I wake up each to within about an hour. Which means there's a 2 hour error bar on total sleep. That doesn't really seem very helpful, though maybe other people fall asleep and wake up instantaneously with their eyes focused on a clock.
Dec 16, 2008 3:24 PM # 
I read about a study a few months ago linking shift work (irregular sleep) and cancer, and this one included both men and women:
Dec 16, 2008 5:35 PM # 
I don't think a sleeptracker pro would be much help to me, as it seems to be addressing a problem I don't have. chitownclark does identify some of my poor sleep habits. Actually, he is three for three, or maybe three for four. I'm not sure I am guilty of "etc.". I generally sleep well for a few hours, but start waking up anywhere from 12 to 2, and then several times thereafter, sometimes briefly but sometimes it is too much, finally arising at 4 or 4:30.
Dec 16, 2008 6:58 PM # 
The research that I've seen presented, about sleep and disease, points more to a quality of sleep rather than a quantity of sleep. The two are linked, for sure, but getting 8 hours of crummy sleep isn't going to reduce your chance of developing type II diabetes [the context in the seminar I went to]. I know an orienteer (whose name rhymes with Samantha) that becomes very agitated when she isn't going to get her 8 hours of sleep. Though making the effort to rest well is laudable, I can't help but think that stress related to "sleep-guilt" probably has a detrimental effect.

Dr. James Maas is a sleep researcher at Cornell and he was a bit of a local celebrity. he's got a website worth checking out but as a warning it's a bit preachy.
Dec 16, 2008 8:55 PM # 
Wow, Dr. Maas is still teaching? I had him for intro Psych back in the early 80's - class size of around 1200 people, but always interesting enough that you didn't really think about skipping class.
Dec 16, 2008 9:47 PM # 
But did it help you sleep?
Dec 17, 2008 2:38 AM # 
Sleeping is highly underrated. Charlie, go back to sleep......
Dec 17, 2008 2:48 AM # 
Was Charlile asking if Dr. Maas was able to keep the class of 1200 awake?

When tossing and turning, I rerun an O' course in my head. I rarely finish one - zzzzzz
Dec 17, 2008 3:02 AM # 
ebuckley: a warning it's a bit preachy.

That warning hardly seems necessary in a thread started by Clark.

Seriously, I'd second the quality over quantity bit (although I can't claim any hard data to back it up). I would also think that there's a big difference between the occasional all-nighter and chronic sleep deprivation.

One of the best pieces of coaching advice I ever got was, "throw away your alarm clock." If you get up when you wake up naturally (and not before), your body will usually fall into a pattern of getting the amount of sleep it needs. There are, of course, exceptions.
Dec 17, 2008 12:37 PM # 
Yeah...I confess. My initial post DID seem to echo many of my own mother's nagging admonishments. But folks, this is new evidence...and it relates to Cancer! Which according the the CDC will soon become the most common cause of death for all of us.

Could this be yet another area in which Mother's nagging was right?
Dec 17, 2008 10:44 PM # 
I've heard really bad cases of cancer actually cause a very, very, very long sleep.

This discussion thread is closed.