Sunday, April 13, 2008

Brenda's Journal Entry

Brenda posted a journal entry today that brings up a good point!:

It is so hot in San Jose! It has been really hot this entire weekend. But that means there's clear skies, which also means nice flying! I just got back from my flying lesson and it was great. My instructor said he was "impressed". That made me happy! We did slow flying in which I pulled the power all the way out to idle and I kept the same altitude while turning. I also practiced a little bit of stalls and steep turns! Those were fun! I had to make 45 degree turns on both ways and kept the nose up because the nose tends to go down during a turn. I also had to turn back to my original heading and still have maintained my altitude. It was great! I was being clumsy this morning....I spilled my Orange juice on myself, and tripped a couple of times and and bruised my pinky while pushing the plane out with the tow bar, so now I have a big fat bruised funny looking pinky! ouch! But you know what, I love was part of flying. I showed off my bruised pinky to everyone at the flying club, haha, I was proud of my bruise! I woke up at 8am (which is REALLY early for me) to get to the airport and get prepared before my scheduled lesson which was at instructor has me do weight and balance EVERY time we go up flying, and I can see that I do get better at it as I do it more often. I concluded that the reason why I was being so clumsy this morning was because I didn't get enough sleep! Sleep is SO IMPORTANT! The reason why I didn't get enough sleep was because last night I worked an 8 hour shift over night at the mall, ended up getting out at 4am this morning and.....I slept for about 4 hours in total. I'm glad though, that even though I was being clumsy the entire morning I was able to focus on what I was doing while flying. It was fun...but now I'm going to take a nap because tonight is another long night at the mall. I would like to hear any stories from anyone about a clumsy day, I'm sure it happens often....right?!?

Answer Brenda.

So what about this fatigue (the "official" name for being tired)? We have been discussing this issue at my new job, because it is such a big deal. The pilots need sleep to fly safely, but the airlines need to get their flights done. It is so important to strike the perfect balance (or as close to perfect as possible). It's not just one short night that can do damage - it also concerns whether or not that sleep deficit is recovered in a timely manner:

Sleep is a vital physiological function. Like food and water, sleep is necessary for survival. Sleepiness results when sleep loss occurs. Like hunger and thirst, sleepiness is the brain's signal that sleep is needed. “Sleep loss” describes the phenomenon of getting less sleep than is needed for maximal waking performance and alertness. If an individual normally needs 8 hours of sleep to feel completely alert, and gets only 6 hours of sleep, 2 hours of sleep loss has been incurred. Sleep loss over successive days accumulates into a “sleep debt.” If the individual needing 8 hours of sleep gets only 6 hours a night for 4 nights in a row, an 8 hours sleep debt has been accumulated. The negative effects of one night of sleep loss are compounded by subsequent sleep loss. Sleep loss and the resultant sleepiness can degrade most aspects of human performance. In the laboratory, it has been demonstrated that losing as little as 2 hours of sleep can negatively affect alertness and performance. Performance effects include: degraded judgment, situation awareness, decision-making, and memory; slowed reaction time; lack of concentration; fixation; and worsened mood. Other effects are decreased work efficiency, degraded crew coordination, reduced motivation, decreased vigilance, and increased variability of work performance. The brain is programmed for two periods of maximal sleepiness every 24 hours from about 3-5 AM and 3-5 PM (3).

Read the rest of this informative article here.

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