NEW DELHI: A survey conducted by the Washington-based National Sleep Foundation (NSF)has found that a good number of commercial airline pilots were victims of sleep deprivation owing to their hectic work schedule, which impacted their on-the-job performance.
Perhaps more disturbingly, a significant number said that sleepiness had caused safety problems on the job. One in five pilots (20 per cent) admitted that they had witnessed a “near miss” incident owing to their sleepiness. Sleepiness had also resulted in car accidents while commuting to and from work and this was admitted to by almost 6 per cent of the pilots surveyed.
“Driving home from work after a long shift is associated with crashes due to sleepiness.” “We should all be concerned that pilots and train operators report car crashes due to sleepiness at a rate that is six times greater than that of other workers,”said Sanjay Patel, a sleep researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School (HMS). Among all the workers surveyed, train operators and pilots reported the maximum work-day sleep dissatisfaction. Almost one-half of the pilots (50 per cent) said they rarely or never got a good nights sleep on work nights. And the study found that around 11 per cent of the pilots felt ‘sleepy.”
“We found that although pilots are especially focused on obtaining adequate sleep, one in ten can still be classified as ‘sleepy.’ This is not acceptable. Who among us wants to take a one in ten chance of flying on a plane with a sleepy pilot?” a member of the NSF said.