Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Snooze Control: Fatigue, Air Traffic and Safety

26.04.2011
It is safe to say that we are all guilty of these at some point in our day – stifling a yawn in the middle of the work day, eyelids growing heavy and having the strong urge for caffeine when 3pm rolls around. While most of us have experienced fatigue and lethargy on the job, spare a thought for those who hold the fate of people’s lives in their hands.

A day in the life of an air traffic controller is not easy. You might think the task of giving directions to planes carrying hundreds of passengers lies with a team of people. In reality, this daunting task is often handled by a mere two people. Each controller has his specific set of responsibilities, but all too often exhaustion gets the best of one of them, forcing the remaining controller to carry out additional duties.

The length of their shifts in not necessarily the problem; instead it is the irregular shifts that lead to extreme fatigue. Though the Federal Aviation Administration requires air traffic controllers to have at least 8 hours of time between shifts, the controllers may not be able to use these 8 hours solely for sleep. It is not uncommon for a controller to work from 7am until 3pm then report back to work at 11 pm to work the midnight shift until 7am the next morning.

In recent weeks, there have been reports of air traffic controllers falling asleep on the job, from Miami to Knoxville to Washington, DC. There is even speculation that staff shortage and a lack of attention may have contributed to a close-call with a plane carrying First Lady Michelle Obama. Thus, increased media attention on these incidents has highlighted the need for drastic change to improve safety. Changes include an extra hour between shifts and a greater availability of managers during late night and early morning shifts. The new rules would also prohibit air traffic controllers from switching shifts without the mandatory nine-hour rest period.

Dr. Richard Bootzin, a Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Arizona who also serves as Director of the Insomnia Clinic at the University Medical Center said, “The relatively short time between shifts puts pressure on people to sleep and there are consequences when people are overly sleepy or fatigued.” According to Bootzin, this problem is not unique to air traffic controllers as many other occupations also involve around the clock shifts.

Bootzin believes that the solution is not to punish air traffic controllers, but to make changes that will create a more conducive working environment. “There is a lot of literature on this very problem and several ways to remedy the situation,” he said.

Michael Scullin, a doctoral candidate at Washington University’s Department of Psychology in St. Louis, recognizes the important role that proper sleep plays in a cognitively demanding job, such as that of an air traffic controller. “One of the things we know about sleep deprivation is that it affects your ability to use your cognitive resources in an efficient manner,” said Scullin.”

“Air traffic controllers have a lot of prospective memory demands; they may be working on the evaluation of locations of planes and at the same time have to re-route an airplane. This is very cognitively demanding,” said Scullin who also stresses the importance of proper sleep as opposed to quick-fixes such as caffeine, which does not eliminate the problem of fatigue.

Dr. Richard Bootzin will be presenting his paper entitled, “If Sleep Is So Important, Why Do We Get So Little of It? Advances in Understanding and Treating Insomnia,” at the APS 23rd Annual Convention in Washington, DC .

For more information on the effects of sleep deprivation and fatigue, and for the opportunity to speak with renowned speakers and leading specialists in other fields of psychology, register now to attend the APS 23rd Annual Convention from May 26-29, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Divya Menon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psychologicalscience.org

Further reports about: Ambient Air Control Fatigue Snooze insomnia sleep deprivation traffic control

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Establishing metastasis
25.09.2018 | Medical University of South Carolina

nachricht Artificial intelligence to improve drug combination design & personalized medicine
25.09.2018 | SLAS (Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening)

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Working the switches for axon branching

Our brain is a complex network with innumerable connections between cells. Neuronal cells have long thin extensions, so-called axons, which are branched to increase the number of interactions. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have collaborated with researchers from Portugal and France to study cellular branching processes. They demonstrated a novel mechanism that induces branching of microtubules, an intracellular support system. The newly discovered dynamics of microtubules has a key role in neuronal development. The results were recently published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

From the twigs of trees to railroad switches – our environment teems with rigid branched objects. These objects are so omnipresent in our lives, we barely...

Im Focus: Hygiene at your fingertips with the new CleanHand Network

The Fraunhofer FEP has been involved in developing processes and equipment for cleaning, sterilization, and surface modification for decades. The CleanHand Network for development of systems and technologies to clean surfaces, materials, and objects was established in May 2018 to bundle the expertise of many partnering organizations. As a partner in the CleanHand Network, Fraunhofer FEP will present the Network and current research topics of the Institute in the field of hygiene and cleaning at the parts2clean trade fair, October 23-25, 2018 in Stuttgart, at the booth of the Fraunhofer Cleaning Technology Alliance (Hall 5, Booth C31).

Test reports and studies on the cleanliness of European motorway rest areas, hotel beds, and outdoor pools increasingly appear in the press, especially during...

Im Focus: Scientists present new observations to understand the phase transition in quantum chromodynamics

The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.

This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.

Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...

Im Focus: Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...

Im Focus: New soft coral species discovered in Panama

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

"Boston calling": TU Berlin and the Weizenbaum Institute organize a conference in USA

21.09.2018 | Event News

One of the world’s most prominent strategic forums for global health held in Berlin in October 2018

03.09.2018 | Event News

4th Intelligent Materials - European Symposium on Intelligent Materials

27.08.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Copper-aluminum superatom

26.09.2018 | Life Sciences

New enclosure gives a boost to electrical engineering companies

26.09.2018 | Trade Fair News

Working the switches for axon branching

26.09.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>