PURPOSE: Sleep is a fundamental biologic function. The circadian process organizes the sleep phases with the light and dark cycles. Activities that disrupt these biological processes, such as shift work, influence the development of sleep disorders. Objectives:1) To determine the prevalence of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) among air traffic controllers (ATC); 2) To determine the factors that contribute to the occurrence of EDS; 3) To determine the effect of shift work on the sleeping pattern of ATC.
METHODS: This is a cross sectional, cohort study. ATC and communicators from the air traffic offices were given a self-administered questionnaire which included the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) and questions on sleeping habits and patterns.
RESULTS: 168 ATC and communicators participated in the study (46% response rate). Prevalence of EDS with an ESS score >10 was 63%. The degree of ESS scores is not significant across age and between males and females (Fisher’s exact=0.19, p < 0.05). There is a significant difference between the ESS scores of shiftworkers compared to those who worked fixed hours (Fisher’s exact=0.041, p < 0.0.5). There is no significant difference in the ESS scores of those who go on duty everyday compared to those who go on duty less frequently (γcoefficient=0.26). There is no significant difference between the ESS scores of those who go on <8 hour duties and those who go on 8, 12, 24 or >24 hours of duty. Common aids to sleep included watching television (56%),reading (45%), and internet surfing (5%). Common method to keep awake is drinking coffee (67%).
CONCLUSION: EDS is common among shiftworkers and this is primarily brought about by disturbances in the sleep-wake cycle. Further studies are needed to evaluate current working practices and organization of shift work in the air traffic offices in the Philippines.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Air traffic controllers are exposed to the possible negative effects that bad work organization of shifts may have on on the cognitive function, psychomotor performance and health status and hence performance efficiency.
DISCLOSURE: Eleanor Dominguez, None.