Integrated Safety Support
Fatigue Management & Human Factors in our 24-hour Society
Fatigue Management & Human Factors in our 24-hour Society

The Fatigue Insider Blog

Smart drugs: the rise of cognitive doping

Nov 13, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

 

 
More and more people are turning to pharmaceutical drugs to improve their performance at work and university, which raises a lot of questions about their efficacy and safety. How did nootropics like Modafinil go from a powerful narcolepsy drug to the centre of the conversation about doping at work and unrealistic expectations of productivity?

 

Nootropics are a broad range of drugs said to improve cognitive function, from improving memory retention to spurring creativity. The drug Modafinil keeps you awake far beyond normal limits and is said to allow you to maintain intense focus for a period of time. It was taken by helicopter pilots to stay alert as they carried US Special Forces to and from the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. It can also have serious side effects like intense headaches and anxiety, and we don’t even know the long-term safety issues for those using them as a performance enhancer rather than a narcolepsy drug.

 
In 2011, just over 650,000 people in the US had Modafinil prescriptions. By 2012, that number had risen to 1.9 million, a figure not including people obtaining it illegally. Drugs like these have become more widespread in competitive and high-stakes environments like universities and Silicon Valley, as expectations about productivity have skyrocketed. We must question the kind of working environment that incentivises taking powerful drugs in order to keep up with demands.

 

It also calls into question the efficacy of using drugs like these to get a competitive edge. Is it cheating? Some sports organisations ban the usage of drugs like Adderall for those with an ADHD diagnosis for the same reasons they ban steroids and other performance enhancers. Will employer drug tests soon screen for modafinil use? Or on the contrary, will CEOs welcome the rise of extra-sharp workers who never need sleep?


 

READ MORE
Developments in trucking laws: Fatigue risk management

Oct 30, 2019 ISS Comments (0)


 

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NVHR) is calling for more flexibility in fatigue rules in its submission to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) review being conducted by the National Transport Commission.

The implementation of the submission would allow operators with demonstrably robust fatigue management systems more flexibility to manage fatigue risks. This could mean a change in framework and culture surrounding fatigue management, allowing it to expand from basic prescriptive work and rest hours.
 
Dr Adam Fletcher said, “Fatigue management is about much more than work hours and sleep. It also relates to workload, individual factors including health and sleep timing preferences, and the ability for drivers to be flexible when they feel it is safer...This development reflects a closer alignment with the point I have made publicly and with regulators for many years.”
 
NHVR CEO, Sal Petroccitto said, “the NHVR believes that prescriptive work and rest hours should still play a role in providing a minimum ‘safe harbour’ for drivers, but that a multi-tiered approach to fatigue risk management would allow flexibility for operators who take up additional, new or innovative safety practices.”
 
Current laws reduced fatigue-related crashes between 2003 and 2009, but "the rate of heavy vehicle crashes caused by driver fatigue" has been stable since then. An expansion in the scope of fatigue management to include factors like workload, health, and driver autonomy could bring the rate of fatigue-related crashes down further.

 

READ MORE
A positive attitude could lead to better sleep

Oct 16, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

 

Are you struggling to sleep? Try being more optimistic! A recent study has found that those with a more optimistic disposition had significantly better odds of getting better quality sleep.
 
More than 3,500 people ages 32-51 participated in the 2019 study, which measured optimism by asking participants to assess 10 statements using a 5-point scale.
 
To measure their sleep, participants reported on their sleep twice over a period of five years and rated their sleep quality and duration during the previous month. The survey assessed their symptoms of insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, and the number of hours of actual sleep they obtained each night. Some participants also wore activity monitors that collected data on their sleep duration, percentage of time asleep and restlessness while sleeping.
 
Participants with higher optimism scores were more likely to sleep for 6-9 hours each night and 74% less likely to have insomnia.
 
Lead author Dr Rosalba Hernandez, from the University of Illinois, speculated on what could explain their findings: "Optimists are more likely to engage in active problem-focused coping and to interpret stressful events in more positive ways, reducing worry and ruminative thoughts when they're falling asleep and throughout their sleep cycle."
 
You can access the article from the Journal of Behavioural Medicine here.

 

READ MORE
NASA test could keep an eye on sleep deprivation

Oct 09, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

 

A new study conducted at NASA’s Ames Research Centre in California identified a simple and easily obtainable set of eye movement measurements that can provide accurate insights into whether a person is sleep-deprived.
 
Participants spent two weeks on regular 8.5 hours per night sleep schedule and abstained from alcohol, drugs, and caffeine so that they were sure they started the experiment from the same baseline. Then participants spent up to 28 hours awake, where they were tested periodically to monitor how their visual and eye-movement performance changed.
 
The researchers found that when participants were asked to track stimuli with unpredictable onset, direction, speed and starting location, human eye movements were dramatically impaired.
 
These findings have important implications for people working in high-pressure jobs such as surgeons, military personnel, and truck drivers. These measures could be used to assess individuals working nightshifts.
 
Lee Stone, senior author on the study said: "There are significant safety ramifications for workers who may be performing tasks that require precise visual coordination of one's actions when sleep deprived or during night shifts. By looking at a wide variety of components of human eye movements, we could not only detect sleepiness but also distinguish it from other factors, such as alcohol use or brain injury, that we have previously shown cause subtly different deficits in eye movements."
 
Access the study in the Journal of Physiology here.

 

 

 

 


 

READ MORE
Workload and Cabin Crew Fatigue

Oct 02, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

 

A new study published in the International Journal of Aerospace Psychology examined the correlation between fatigue and workload in cabin crews, and found perceived workload to be an independent predictor of fatigue.
 
Cabin crew face workload demands very different from that of pilots, their responsibilities include a lot more physical tasks as well as factors like turbulence, passenger demands, and medical incidents. The need for them to be awake during all meal services also means that they have less time available for significant blocks of rest.
 
The study evaluated Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS) tailored to the needs of cabin crews on ultra-long haul flights (longer than 16 hours). 55 airline cabin crew wore an actigraph and completed a sleep diary during an ultra-long trip. Before landing, the participants completed a psychomotor performance test and after landing they rated their workload for the flight. They found that on higher workload flight, members of the cabin crew felt more sleepy and fatigued, and were less successful at their psychomotor performance test.
 
Lead author Margo van den Berg, a PhD candidate at Massey University said, “It is important that the effects of workload in flight should not be viewed in isolation... Cabin crew often experience fatigue as a consequence of their irregular work schedules, which include early starts, late finishes, night work, frequent time zone changes, and long duty periods, causing sleep loss and circadian rhythm disruption. Considering that their most important role is to ensure cabin and passenger safety during flight, cabin crew fatigue and its associated risks needs to be managed carefully.”
 
As airline cabin crews are responsible for ensuring the safety and comfort of passengers aboard flights, it is important to manage and decrease fatigue-related operational risk.
 
You can view the study here.

 

READ MORE
Sweet Dreams: How is sugar ruining your sleep?

Sep 25, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

 

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but if you eat garbage, you’ll sleep like garbage too.
 
A 2016 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that eating sugar before bed was associated with “lighter, less restorative sleep with more arousals.” They found that participants whose diets consisted of more sugar and fat spent less time in deep sleep, a phase that is essential for cell-regeneration, recovery, and immune function.
 
They also discovered that those who ate more sugar had more trouble falling asleep, and were more likely be pulled out of deep sleep without waking up, which can leave you feeling chronically tired even if you get the right amount of hours.
 
This can also work in reverse, as individuals who are getting more high quality sleep are less likely to gravitate towards sugar and refined carbohydrates for an un-sustainable energy boost.
 
The study also linked fibre intake with deeper, more restorative sleep. They posited that a diet rich in fibre, with less sugars and simple carbohydrates and may be a useful tool to improve sleep. If you want to start sleeping more soundly, try slowly cutting back your sugar intake to see if that helps you wake up more well-rested.

 

 

READ MORE
Simple yoga poses to help you get some shuteye

Sep 18, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

Yoga can be a gentle way to help you wind down at the end of the night and bring some awareness back into your body. An American national health interview survey (NHIS) found that over 55% of respondents reported improved sleep, and 85% reported reduced stress. We’ve included some of the most relaxing yoga poses to help relieve your muscles and get you ready for bed.

Child’s pose (Balasana)
Try this kneeling pose with your legs hip-width apart and your arms either by your side or stretched out in front for additional spine lengthening and shoulder relief.

 

 
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Bend forward with your hands clasped to the opposite elbow to achieve a hamstring, calve and hip stretch and provide relief to your neck and shoulders. Shake your head ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to release tension in your neck, and softly bend your knees if the hamstring stretch is too intense.

 

Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani)

 This pose not only releases tension in the lower back and stretches the hamstrings, but also allows your circulation to re-adjust, taking pressure from the feet and ankles and increasing blood flow to the upper body. Try to get your legs as close to the wall as your hamstrings allow.

 
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Traditionally the final pose in a yoga class, use this pose to centre your thoughts, focus on your breathing, and allow every muscle in your body to relax.


 

 

READ MORE
1 2 3 4 5 .. 14