Sleeping for Pilots & Cabin Crew …and other insomniacs

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Sleeping for Pilots & Cabin Crew…and other Insomniacs
By an Airbus A380 Pilot
Amazon Kindle 2.99$
ISBN 0994476019
…Supporting Shift Worker’s World Wide

“No matter how you try to explain it, your non-shift working friends and family will never understand your ways.”
...But they might get an inkling if you let them read this anonymous Pilot’s book when you’re finished reading it yourself.
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Sleeping for Pilots & Cabin Crew …and other insomniacs is divided into 2 parts – variables that affect your sleep, and best practices to improve your chances of getting that good night’s rest. Or day’s rest, or afternoon’s rest because as shift workers we’re all over the place nearly every single day. Each chapter closes with a recap and real life happenings in this Pilot’s flying life.

He shares information gathered from years in the trenches, of actually doing the work, and so his writing rings true on many levels, certainly more so than advice we know comes from those who don’t do, never have, and never will do shift work. The suggestions are practical, and more importantly, doable. And yes, even after 30 odd years of shift work myself, I learned a few things. If you’re wondering if there’s anything in here for you, I suggest, if sleep at times escapes you, that there is.

“The idea is to learn the tricks to aid sleeping, try them out, find out what works for you and apply them.”

An added bonus is the general “how to fly” info that the author has included. If you travel, these tips alone are worth the read, covering jet lag, how to inspect your room/bed, travelling safely, etc.
The Author had been flying for thirty years when he wrote this book, longer than most of his cabin crew have been on the planet … and many of his First Officers. He has since retired.

An Ansett-Refugee* from Australia, he lives in the Middle East, where he flew Airbuses with the same carrier for nearly ten years. Previously, he was flying a VIP Airbus for a Saudi Sheikh, and before that flying in Vietnam, England, Malta and Australia. As well as all the Airbus models since the A320, he has flown the Boeing 727, Saab340 and Metroliner; as well the usual squadron of general aviation aircraft. This is his third book. As well as writing, his other great love is photography

*Ansett Australia was an airline that, along with 27 airlines around the world, failed within three days of the twin towers coming down on September 11th 2001.

The 8 Hour Sleep Paradox… How we are sleeping our way to fatigue, disease, and unhappiness

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Book Review by Benjamin Zaiser (Shift Worker)

The Sleep Ability Quiz
These questions will give you an initial glimpse into your body’s ability to breathe easily during sleep. If you answer yes to any of these questions, your sleep ability may be suffering:
• Do you prefer one side when sleeping?
• Do you grind or clench your teeth?
• Do you have pain, clicking, or popping in your jaw?
• Do you crave carbohydrates or caffeine for energy?
• Do you crave naps?
• Did you suck your thumb as a child?
• Does your sleep partner tell you that you snore?
• Do you wake up un-refreshed?
• Do you get sleepy and tired during the day?
• Do you need several alarms to wake up in the morning?
• Do you wake up with a dry mouth?
• Do you wake up with a headache or neck ache?
• Have you ever had an injury to your nose?
• Do you have frequent trouble with sinusitis?
• Do you have a receding chin?

Particularly for shift workers, The 8-Hour Sleep Paradox: How We Are Sleeping Our Way to Fatigue, Disease and Unhappiness is an engaging eye-opener, making an unequivocal case for the importance of sleep quality and what’s at stake if we neglect it. The many “ahas" and “no ways" of Burhenne’s book made me identify myself, family members and friends to be at risk and that it is about time to start the process and ask my dentist a new set of questions.

Imagine this: after one of those nights, you finally manage to get your heart rate and tension down to a level that allows you to fall asleep. As you descend into deep sleep and your brain starts to process the emotions of a draining night shift, archive the corresponding memories and renew dead cells and broken tissue, your breathing suddenly stalls and your blood oxygen level drops. As your muscles reached a state of paralysis-like relaxation, your airways have collapsed to the point that they no longer support effortless breathing. In order to breathe again, your brain must turn away from its deep sleep operations, and activate your muscles in order to roll you over and change your position to clear your airways. Finally, once you get back to deep sleep, your brain starts all over again, until the next interruption when it has to take care of your breathing again. With his book, The 8-Hour Sleep Paradox, Mark Burhenne makes, a convincing argument on what he found to be at the root of an increasingly sleep deprived society: sleep-disordered breathing. In this eye-opening account on "how we are sleeping ourselves into fatigue, disease, and unhappiness”, the author sidetracks popular sleep hacks and gets right to the often-overlooked point. Before we reduce blue screen light and coffee consumption prior to going to bed and force ourselves to stay in bed for 8 hours, we need to make sure our brain gets the oxygen it needs to do what it is supposed to do when we sleep.

The What?

Accordingly, Burhenne’s focus is not limited to the treatment of sleep-disordered breathing. Throughout the book, he reiterates the importance of prevention and early recognition: “the younger and more symptom-free you are, the less likely your doctor is to suspect anything could be wrong with your sleep.” Still, among the most common groups of people with undiagnosed sleep disorders are people who grind their teeth, petite women, athletes, allergy sufferers, and children with ADD/ADHD. What follows these basic considerations is a powerful illustration of the mechanics of sleep-disordered breathing and how almost every health issue may be related to bad sleep quality. It is during deep sleep, when the brain facilitates cellular regeneration and reproduction, memory consolidation, the processing of emotions and the optimization and enhancement of neuronal connections. In other words, deep sleep allows our brain to improve everything from musculoskeletal growth and repair, athletic performance and weight, memory, problem solving, and creativity, to our ability to cope with stress and our immune system. Burhenne points out how breathing related interruptions of our deep sleep keep our brains from successfully completing these tasks. Consequently, physiological and psychological damages accumulate over the course of time, while we lull ourselves in what we perceive to be a balanced sleep cycle, because we never experienced true healthy sleep. Even in times of conscious sleep deprivation, we end up feeling invincible whenever we still manage to live up to our often self-imposed obligations and accommodate for our crowded schedules. This insight is worth repeating: We cannot objectively say how well we are sleeping, because we don’t know what healthy or healthier sleep feels like, because changes in our sleep ability are subtle and because good health disguises suboptimal sleep. As a result, Burhenne lists, backed by current research, the negative implications of sleep deprivation, including the increased risk of weight gain, loss of libido, decreased muscle-building and cell renewal ability, chronic inflammation, increased susceptibility to metabolic and endocrine diseases, multiple types of cancer and a whole array of mental health issues like depression, Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Based on these considerations, The 8-Hour Sleep Paradox provides a three step approach to reverse what Burhenne refers to as an “epidemic”. First, he outlines how we can measure sleep ability with self-observation at home and with the help of our dentist, family physician and sleep specialist. A significant part of the book provides detailed guidance on how to obtain diagnostic referrals and prescriptions for the right kind of sleep study and on which details matter in the process. Next, he turns to the treatment of sleep-disordered breathing, formulating the goals of being able to breathe through our noses with ease and having our airways open as our muscles are relaxed in deep sleep. Furthermore, he covers sleep hygiene and reviews possible treatments from sleeping on the side, tongue exercises, dental appliances and different kinds of breathing apparatus (continuous positive airway pressure [CPAP] machines) to surgery. Finally, the author stresses the importance of a follow-up sleep study to evaluate the sleep quality after the intervention.

The Why…
Covered by major news media outlets like the Huffington Post or the Washington Post or popular magazines including Men’s Health and Women’s Health, Burhenne’s book is not the only account on (breathing related) sleep disorders. What makes it stand out, though, is the simple, straightforward and evidence-based narrative that, despite its unsettling message, keeps information limited to the extent that is scientifically justifiable.
It is not by chance that Burhenne, a dentist, is writing on sleep medicine. Informed by his own experience with sleep apnea, he puts forth a convincing argument that our teeth, jaw and throat play an important role in anatomical causes of sleep-disordered breathing like obstructive sleep apnea: "the signs of sleep-disordered breathing show up first in the mouth, jaw, and face, which is why the newest guidelines put forth by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) have dentists on the frontline, screening for sleep-disordered breathing at every six-month checkup.” As a member of the AADSM himself, Burhenne pairs his expertise with a fact-based approach, backing his claims with recent scientific findings.
His major recommendation, a recurrent theme throughout roughly the two thirds of the book that hold his solution to the problem, exceeds the usual “do-it-yourself” level of popularized guides to a better life. Viewing the pervasiveness of sleep disorders in our society and the audience targeted by the book, chances are that a significant number of readers will pass all stages of the self- and dental screening, then face Burhenne’s imperative of participating in a sleep study. This, in turn, may be hard to achieve due to the catch-22 of medical prevention, when symptoms that justify participation in a sleep study are not yet present. The author accommodates for the potential lack of initiative of the readership with a consistent and strong argument that, facing the negative implications of sleep deprivation, we have no other choice but to further investigate potential sleep disorder indicators. In addition, Burhenne provides detailed guidance, though tailored to a US audience, on how to obtain insurance coverage and referrals for diagnosis and treatments.

The Bottom Line…
Particularly for shift workers, The 8-Hour Sleep Paradox is an engaging eye-opener, making an unequivocal case for the importance of sleep quality and what’s at stake if we neglect it. The many “ahas" and “no ways" of Burhenne’s book made me identify myself, family members and friends to be at risk and that it is about time to start the process and ask my dentist a new set of questions.

Benjamin Zaiser, Shift Worker
The 8-Hour Sleep Paradox is Available @ click link below
130 pages ASIN: B015DIQBZ6