Flying Tired

.. n 5.7 hours of sleep followed by 7.4 hours awake and 5.8 hours of sleep. The big difference between short haul and long haul was the external environment such as light and activities that were different from the pilots normal circadian system; this was due to flying over as many as 5 different time Zones. The internal clock system was changed from the normal 24 hours to a clock system of 25.7. This made the sleep episodes unable to adapt to the changing time Zones.

The most important information gathered from the study was that it showed that there are times of good sleep and times of bad sleep. The current regulations regulate the off-duty times to allow for sleep and rest, but they do not take into consideration the internal circadian clock. What this means is if you have an off duty time that has a sufficient number of hours to accomplish the normal required sleep of 8 hours, you still may not be able to accomplish the proper level of sleep due to the difference in time clocks. (Fatigue, 1998) CHAPTER IV Ways to battle lack of sleep for pilots Due to the ever-increasing demand on the aviation industry to operate and provide 24-hour service, we most likely will not see a decrease in the challenges imposed on human physiology. Knowing that the demands and strains on the circadian system will only increase, we must strive to develop ways in which to battle the natural effects of a lack of sleep and fatigue to reduce the danger they bring to aviation.

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First we should point out the laws that govern Commercial aviation. According to Far 135.265 a pilot can have a reduced rest time of 8 hours if they take and extended rest time of 11 hours in the next 24 hours. What this would do is allow the pilot to be scheduled for a rest time of only 8 hours, which starts after he lands and begins at the next takeoff. Clearly this is not enough time for proper rest knowing the recommended time for sleep is 8 hours per day. They seem to think you are resting the minute you land your aircraft.

See appendix C for additional regulations on duty time limitations. The complexity of the FARs on duty/rest time for pilots and the fact that the FARs allow Commercial operators to manipulate the rules in a way that makes the desired amount of sleep hard to obtain, it is no wonder pilots have a problem with fatigue. As we have seen our internal clock has a predetermined time frame that allows us to obtain good sleep. We must find ways of creating a successful environment for quality sleep especially without the help of regulations, which fall short. (Federal, 2000) Personal Strategies The National sleep Foundation has established a list of tips for reaching the desired amount and quality of sleep.

They break down the tips into five areas of concentration; bedtime rituals, light, sound, food, and exercise. They push the fact that you should make sleep a priority in your life with both work and personal activities. They suggest tasks such as trying to hide your eyes from light when your sleep time is during daylight hours. They also say to have people who live with you use headphones when watching television. They even go as far as to suggest putting a do not disturb, sign on your bedroom door at home (Sleep, 1999). Their ideas have good intentions but the reality in todays world you would be asking a lot of the people you live with if you were to enforce such restrictions on their lives.

(Sleep, 1999) Sleeping Pills The use of sleeping pills can be helpful for a short time period but it is recommended not to use them for extended time periods. Currently there is an experimental drug called Melatonin, which is believed to posses the ability to regulate the function of the internal clocks day and night timing. The drug is a pineal hormone that can be detected in the plasma and serum. They are now testing dead people for their levels of Melatonin to determine the time of death. The drug has primarily been used in the treatment of people with jet lag.

In 1995 they extended the drug in the U. S. retail market to 20 million new consumers, but still as an experimental drug. At this time the drug is not recommended for use by aviation professionals according to an aviation medicine report that said, The indiscriminate use of Melatonin by aviation professionals may pose unacceptable safety risks for air travel. (Sanders, 1998) This warning comes from limited studies that found giving shift workers Melatonin at the wrong time or incorrect dose could impair their job performance. (Sanders, 1998) Caffeine Probably the most common way to fight feeling tired and increase your alertness is to use caffeine.

Coffee being the drink of choice for most but is loosing ground to the increasing popularity of soda pop. There is nothing wrong with using caffeine to help overcome the feeling of sleepiness, if used wisely. The effects of caffeine can have a lasting effect so the timing and amount of caffeine needs to be taken into consideration when using it. If too much is taken or it is taken close to the time you will be needing sleep it can prevent you from sleeping. Caldwell said, If caffeine consumption begins before work, alertness will reach a plateau so that when the person needs a boost in the early morning hours, more caffeine is ineffective (Caldwell, 1999). I would like to give a personal suggestion that you try the European type coffee called Espresso; some people refer to it as Seattle coffee.

The boost is much more than common coffee and the taste is in a completely different league. CHAPTER V CONCLUTIONS Today the scientific knowledge we have clearly shows a relationship between the amount and quality of sleep to the safety in the aviation industry. We looked at two studies that clearly back up the information we have on the effects of sleep. Do to the possibility of an accident involving an aircraft we must take this very seriously. The FAA has attempted to regulate this by enforcing rules to prevent operators from requiring pilots to fly without the desired amount of sleep.

This has not eliminated the danger altogether do to the fact that humans have a internal clock that requires them to sleep at specific times which may or may not be the same as a pilots off-duty time. Because of this many pilot are flying the skies today without the proper alertness required to fly the sophisticated aircraft in use today. According to the NTSB they are aware of the problem and are pushing for studies to improve it. They said, the current duty-time limitations may not be consistent with the current state of scientific knowledge about factors contributing to fatigue among personnel working in safety sensitive transportation jobs (Caldwell, 1999). Fortunately there are many ways for the individual pilot to battle fatigue from lack of sleep.

Learning personal strategies to help promote healthy sleep is one way that pilots can work toward to reduce their amount of fatigue. Although all the tips and techniques used to help sleep are good none will work for the person without the will power to follow through. Due to this we will continue to watch to see if the new studies promised from the NTSB will result in new rules for the duty time limitations for pilots conducting commercial operations. REFERENCES Caldwell L. J., (1999, March-April).

Managing Sleep for Night Shifts Requires Personal Strategies. Flight Safety Foundations; Human Factors & Aviation Medicine. Vol. 46 No. 2 Dinges, D. F., Graeber, R.

C., Rosekind, M. R., Samuel, A., Wegmann, H. M. (1996). Principles and Guidelines for Duty and Rest Scheduling in Commercial Aviation. NASA Technical Memorandum 110404.

Sanders, D. C., Chaturvedi, A. K., and Hordinsky, J.R. (1998, March ). Aeromedical Aspects of Melatonin.

FAA Office of Aviation Medicine Civil Aeromedical Institute Publications. Staff. (1998, July-August). Overcoming Effects of Stress Offers Greatest Opportunity to Sleep Well. Flight Safety Foundations; Human Factors & Aviation Medicine. Vol.

45 No. 4 Internet Bibliography Fatigue Countermeasures Group. (1998, July 6). NASA Ames Research Center. Retrieved November 1, 2000 from the World Wide Web: Sleep Strategies for Shift Workers.

(1999, October). National Safety Foundation. Retrieved October 27, 2000 from the World Wide Web:


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