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Sleep disturbance means the abnormal sleep pattern that influences sleep quality, timing and duration. It encloses disorders of initiating and maintaining sleep (DIMS, insomnias), disorders of excessive somnolence (DOES), disorders of sleep-wake schedule, and dysfunctions associated with sleep, sleep stages, or partial arousals (parasomnias). Sleep disturbances are very common in the general population and are associated with important medical, psychological, and social disturbances.
Sleep deprivation causes sleepiness, mood changes and decrement of alertness. To recover from these states and to work efficiently a nap is beneficial. Long duty periods have the potential to cause high levels of sleepiness.
Inadequate sleep has its effects on cognitive functioning of an individual and mood changes, inducing sleepiness. By investigating quality of work of a person not slept for many hours shows unsatisfactory performance i.e. the time he takes to complete the given task can be prolonged than usual time of completion, the number of bloopers in his work gets increased etc. Increased mental workload reduces efficiency of work. Fewer tasks given can be performed in a better way but increasing demands of work will deteriorate its quality for sure. Inadequate sleep interferes with the individual’s performance thus, he/she is unfit to work physically and mentally which ultimately results in decreased output. Sleep prior to work, if taken satisfactorily, then on-duty hours sleepiness is reduced significantly.
Sleep deprivation is related to disruption of sleep wake cycle associated with rest pattern due to shift work. Night shift workers are more prone to these sleep problems than daytime workers which indicates that inappropriate sleeping time affects the sleep quality and length. shift workers feels excessive sleepiness and sleep disturbances for at least one month in relation with the irregular work schedule. Aircrew perform their duty in all shifts comprises of morning, evening and night depend on the flight schedule, this creates a negative impact on sleep and performance of an individual.
Diurnal sleep-wake cycle is influenced by extended duty hours of flight attendants.Those who are diagnosed with sleep wake disorder may lead to severe disturbances of sleep besides being a risk for accidents.Instead of a complete sleep period of longer duration, a pilot’s sleep is fragmented into many irregular periods of sleeping and awakening with shorter duration during work. During off-duty days these number of periods of sleep are decreased and, in this way, the circadian rhythm is affected to a great extent.
Amount and quality of sleep is also affected by the place they are getting to sleep in their resting hours i.e. in-flight sleep, in layover hotel etc.Flight attendants who sleep on board during flight get low quality of sleep as compared to off board sleep.An efficient, healthy and adequate sleep is important to work with concentration and is required according to the safety rules.
It is also affected by age factor. Older crew takes longer to fall asleep and obtains less sleep.Loss of alertness among aircrew due to sleepiness is investigated. The pilots slept relentlessly due to weariness.Due to disturbed sleep cycle, flight attendants experience high levels of fatigue due to long working hours. Their duty hours are based on work/rest factor rather than sleep/wake factor.
Problems in sleep pattern are widespread among flight attendants as compared to general population and is associated with other health risks.
Previous studies also identified other risk factors for sleep disturbances which include psychiatric disorders, particularly depression, anxiety and personality disorders, physical ill-health, stressful events, excessive use of certain medications, caffeine, nicotine, cocaine and several other narcoleptic drugs, pain, neurological disorders, and life events such as emotional or mental tension, financial stress, marital status and bereavement.
Studies suggest that among flight attendants the most important factor for male is work-related pressure and fatigue which causes difficulties in falling asleep and impairs sleep quality.For female; worries, interpersonal problems, marital and family issues as the most disturbing factors to sleep.
They must be counseled to take care of their napping habits in their off-duty time as to save themselves from health risks due to sleep disruption.Airlines could take measures to improve the quality, or increase the amount of sleep obtained by aircrew during flights. A resting scale, longer in duration, must be set out for them to sustain their alertness mentally and physically.