Monthly Archives: March 2012

Sleepy Transportation Workers – Scary!

Last week was National Sleep Awareness Week, and the time each year that the annual Sleep in America Poll is unveiled. This year it is all about sleep health in the transportation industry. This data raises concerns about public safety, and the health of the transportation workers. Here’s what pilots, train operators, and professional drivers of all types reported about their sleep.

Sleepiness and Safety
When asked about sleepiness, 1 in 4 pilots and train operators said that sleepiness has impacted their job performance once a week. Even more concerning is the number of professionals who say that sleepiness caused safety issues: 20% of pilots, 18% of train operators, and 14% of truck drivers.

These safety issues persist during transportation employees personal time: 6% were in an auto accident due to sleepiness compared to 1% of those who work in other industries.

The Sleep Schedule
Almost half of transportation workers are dis-satisfied with their sleep. Many say their work schedule does not allow enough time for sleep (44% train operators, 37% pilots). This compares to 27% of non-transportation workers.

Transportation professionals tend to work longer shifts, with less time off between shifts. They also tend to have longer commute times, and irregular shiftwork type schedules.

Adequate Sleep for Transportation Professionals
It’s been a pleasure in my office to help transportation professionals get healthy, natural sleep. This is primarily about strategically using our body’s sleep systems to promote alertness during work hours and sleep during sleep times.

First, create a window of time for sleep that can be as consistent as possible. Also put into place a routine of meal times, exercise, activity – all those things that signal time to the body. Second, reduce the commute as much as possible. Third, use precisely timed melatonin and light therapy to promote sleep at sleep times and increase alertness during the work day. This is a very individualized approach which takes into account the irregular work schedule, commute time, sleep environment, and lifestyle.

Summary

“The margin of error in these professions is extremely small. Transportation professionals need to manage sleep to perform at their best,” said David Cloud, leader of the National Sleep Foundation.  His comment really sums this up, that sleep health is so important for transportation professionals and the safety of the public they serve.

 You can read the report here: http://www.sleepfoundation.org//article/press-release/sleepy-pilots-train-operators-and-drivers

Start School Later goes to Washington DC

Over the last week the efforts for the national Start School Later initiative have been intense. This week, March 7th, this petition will be presented to Congress. You can see the press release copied below.

SUPPORT BY SIGNING PETITION NOW at http://signon.org/sign/promote-legislation-to.fb1?source=s.fb&r_by=1521139

400 more signatures are needed as of this moment. I support this initiative in part because many of my adult insomnia patients say that their sleep problems began as a teen, and I’d like to prevent that in the next generation. Thank you, Catherine

Grassroots Petition to Start School Later Goes to Washington for Sleep Week
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2012

CONTACTS
Annapolis, MD- Terra Ziporyn Snider, Ph.D., StartSchoolLater1@gmail.com 410-975-9759
Seattle, WA- Catherine Darley, ND, drdarley@naturalsleepmedicine.net, 206-293-2899

Annapolis, MD. To honor National Sleep Awareness Week, a grassroots coalition of parents, teachers, and health professionals will begin delivering a petition advocating a minimum school start time of 8 a.m. to Congress and White House officials on Wednesday, March 7, 2012. The petition, garnering national attention, has signatures from all 50 states and Washington, DC and has fueled activity in local communities from Short Hills, NJ to Woodinville, WA.
“Most U.S. high schools today start in the 7 a.m. hour, a practice that began several decades ago primarily to save money on bus runs,” explains Terra Ziporyn Snider, Ph.D., a medical writer and the petition creator from Maryland who is also the mother of three. After more than a decade of work advocating for later start times in her local school system, Snider recounts, “Although evidence is crystal clear that starting later is best for health and learning, political obstacles and myths have made change virtually impossible in most districts.”
The petition effort has galvanized a national coalition of health professionals, sleep researchers, educators, parents, and other concerned citizens called Start School Later. The coalition has representation from 16 states and includes an advisory board comprised of notable sleep researchers, adolescent health care providers, and education leaders.
Voluminous research indicates that later school start time can lead to:
• Reduced sleep deprivation, depression, mood swings, and suicidal ideation
• Decreased stimulant abuse, weight gain, and diabetes risk
• Reduced early morning traffic accidents and drowsy driving by new teen drivers
• Improved safety by eliminating waiting or walking in dark, low visibility settings
• Reduced risky after-school behaviors in unsupervised adolescents
• Reduced truancy and absenteeism, and improve school performance
• Improved lifetime earnings potential, according to a recent study published by the Brookings Institute
Locally, in Washington state about 375people have signed this national petition.
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Signature totals and comments from Start School Later’s campaign: http://signon.org/sign/promote-legislation-to.fb1?source=s.fb&r_by=1521139

For more information on Start School Later: http://www.startschoollater.net/
Start School Later is a coalition of health professionals, sleep scientists, educators, parents, students, and other concerned citizens dedicated to increasing public awareness about the relationship between sleep and school hours and to ensuring school start times compatible with health, safety, education, and equity.