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Proceedings Paper

Biomonitoring of physiological status and cognitive performance of underway submariners undergoing a novel watch-standing schedule
Author(s): C. A. Duplessis; M. E. Cullum; L. J. Crepeau
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Paper Abstract

Submarine watch-standers adhere to a 6 hour-on, 12 hour-off (6/12) watch-standing schedule, yoking them to an 18-hr day, engendering circadian desynchronization and chronic sleep deprivation. Moreover, the chronic social crowding, shift work, and confinement of submarine life provide additional stressors known to correlate with elevated secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) and cortisol levels, reduced performance, immunologic dysfunction, malignancies, infections, gastrointestinal illness, coronary disease, anxiety, and depression. We evaluated an alternative, compressed, fixed work schedule designed to enhance circadian rhythm entrainment, sleep hygiene, performance, and health on 10 underway submariners, who followed the alternative and 6/12 schedules for approximately 2 weeks each. We measured subjects’ sleep, cognitive performance, and salivary biomarker levels. Pilot analysis of the salivary data on one subject utilizing ELISA suggests elevated biomarker levels of stress. Average PM cortisol levels were 0.2 μg/L (normal range: nondetectable - 0.15 μg/L), and mean sIgA levels were 562 μg/ml (normal range: 100-500 μg/ml). Future research exploiting real-time salivary bioassays, via fluorescent polarimetry technology, identified by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) as a future Naval requirement, allows researchers to address correlations between stress-induced elaboration of salivary biomarkers with physiological and performance decrements, thereby fostering insight into the underway submariner’s psychoimmunological status. This may help identify strategies that enhance resilience to stressors. Specifically, empirically-based modeling can identify optimal watch-standing schedules and stress-mitigating procedures -- within the operational constraints of the submarine milieu and the mission --that foster improved circadian entrainment and reduced stress reactivity, enhancing physiological health, operational performance, safety, and job satisfaction.

Paper Details

Date Published: 23 May 2005
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 5797, Biomonitoring for Physiological and Cognitive Performance during Military Operations, (23 May 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.601787
Show Author Affiliations
C. A. Duplessis, Naval Submarine Medical Research Lab. (United States)
M. E. Cullum, Naval Institute for Dental and Biomedical Research (United States)
L. J. Crepeau, Naval Submarine Medical Research Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5797:
Biomonitoring for Physiological and Cognitive Performance during Military Operations
John A. Caldwell; Nancy Jo Wesensten, Editor(s)

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