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Navy Seeks Better Sleep For Crews With New Rest Guidelines, Special Glasses

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Crew rest for people who work on moving things 24/7.  Who'd have thought it was important?  ::)

The Navy established new rest guidelines for surface ship crews and is exploring whether specially tinted eyewear can help sailors fall asleep faster during scheduled downtime, after a recent deep-dive into surface force readiness showed that crews were overworked and under-rested.


Navy leadership acknowledged over the summer that poorly rested crews on deployment saw degraded performance due to insufficient sleep. After the Comprehensive Review of Recent Surface Force Incidents also noted the link between work performance and sleep, the Navy has sought to take measures to help sailors get more and better rest.

One tactic is to address sailors’s ability to fall asleep after working shifts at computer screens or in artificial lighting. Blue light – what emanates from screens or artificial lighting – blocks the brain’s production of melatonin, the chemical created by the brain to help people fall asleep, according to Navy researchers.

Based on initial testing, Navy researchers think wearing specially tinted glasses for an hour or two before bedtime can make falling asleep easier.

Using currently available materials, the Naval Ophthalmic Support and Training Activity, based at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, crafted a tint for safety lenses that blocks about 70 percent of blue light, according to a Military Health System news release.

Testing the new lenses comes as the Navy is focusing on sleep, and specifically circadian rhythms. Following this year’s two fatal guided-missile destroyer collisions, Navy investigators found both incidents were caused in part by the prevalence of over-worked and under-rested sailors in the fleet.

“Sleep deprivation has been a significant and well-documented issue for service members,” Cmdr. Marc Herwitz, the chief ancillary informatics officer for the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine, said in the news release.
“It has been especially problematic for those on changing shift work schedules and those who work continuously under artificial lighting.”

The operational navy is seeking to address sleep deprivation through a new sailor rest and workday guideline, which requires commanding officers to incorporate circadian rhythm principles into their watchbills and shipboard routines.

Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander of Naval Surface Forces, released a statement explaining that the Comprehensive Fatigue and Endurance Management Policy fulfills one of the recommendations provided by the comprehensive review.

The guidance calls for sailors to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour day – either seven uninterrupted hours, or five uninterrupted hours with a follow-on two-hour uninterrupted nap. Also, according to the guidance, a sailor’s workday should not exceed either 12 hours in a 24-hour period or eight hours of continuous work, except when required by operational tasks.

Rowden directed cruisers, destroyers and amphibious warships to implement circadian rhythm watchbills and shipboard routines by Dec. 20. Smaller platforms, such as Littoral Combat Ships, Mine Countermeasure Ships and Patrol Coastal Ships have until Mar. 31 to implement the policy.


“The intent of the policy is to provide specific direction to achieve optimal crew endurance, performance, and safety,” Rowden said in his statement.

Better-rested sailors are more productive and more resilient to mental and physical stresses, Rowden’s statement said. Commanding officers operating with sailors who are not rested are essentially conducting operations with impaired sailors.

Navy sleep researchers think the specially tinted lenses can help implement this guidance, which includes charging leaders with training sailors to take advantage of their protected sleep periods. Navy researchers say anecdotal evidence suggests the lenses are a relatively inexpensive and effective way to help bring on the body’s natural urge to sleep as a work-day winds down.

“We just completed a preliminary study with the use of these blue-light-blocking lenses in a group of active duty military members deployed in military facilities,” Nita Shattuck, a fatigue and sleep expert at the Naval Postgraduate School, said in the news release.
“We’re still evaluating all the data and creating control measures to test, but the results are very promising so far.”

More study is required before the military would consider widespread distribution of the specially tinted lenses. But according to Shattuck’s preliminary research, people who wore the glasses for two hours before going to bed fell asleep about 30 percent faster than those who didn’t use them. If successful, Shattuck thinks the lenses could make a big difference in the amount and quality of sleep warfighters get, especially those who do shift work and have to sleep during hours that go against the body’s natural rhythms.

“They’re getting more sleep which improves their mood and makes them less likely to be drowsy when we need them to be alert, such as when they perform security duties. Nodding off is just not an option,” Shattuck said in the news release.

Depending on the results of Shattuck’s research, Herwitz said in the news release, “this eyeglass application has the potential to enhance the readiness, safety, and productivity of service members and improve their quality of life. We can help them sleep, wherever they might be.”

https://news.usni.org/2017/12/28/navy-seeks-better-sleep-for-crews-with-new-rest-guidelines-special-glasses?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB+12.29.17&utm_term=Editorial+-+Early+Bird+Brief
 

Eye In The Sky

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One of the Flt Srgn's at Camp Happy also mentioned glasses of this sort and how they would help people sleep;  IIRC they basically block the portions of the spectrum that tell your brain to 'wake up its daytime!'.
 

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Might be interesting to test the impact of the individual berths of the crew in the Asterix, as against the berthing arrangements in the Montreal, on sleep patterns and crew efficiency.
 

Navy_Pete

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I can't even imagine getting five hours of uninterrupted sleep at sea, that would be awesome.  Good thing as the EO I was only managing people operating things I guess, and had enough actual DC incidents that I could be effective all sleep deprived.  Probably not healthy, and was pretty burnt out at the end, so this would have been helpful.  The caveat of 'operational reasons' would have covered pretty much all of that though, as we had enough stuff breaking regularly that I amended the SOP to 'report significant equipment issues to the EO' (vice all) so I could get at least an hour or two at a time.
 

Eye In The Sky

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Being sleep deprived is comparable to being impaired from alcohol or drugs.  I've also 'gone  up' when I've had less than optimal sleep and I can tell there is a huge difference in my own caps and lims when I've had to.  Even running a vampire schedule for several months can wear you out, working against the natural sleep schedule your body wants to get into.  1 or 2 hours at a time...is that even enough time to get into REM and reap some of the benefit you need while there?
 

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Eye In The Sky said:
Being sleep deprived is comparable to being impaired from alcohol or drugs.  I've also 'gone  up' when I've had less than optimal sleep and I can tell there is a huge difference in my own caps and lims when I've had to.  Even running a vampire schedule for several months can wear you out, working against the natural sleep schedule your body wants to get into.  1 or 2 hours at a time...is that even enough time to get into REM and reap some of the benefit you need while there?

Major warships will now have the option of straight 8 watches, yup thats 8 hours on watch. All except MARS as it was deemed they needed to maintain situational awareness.
 

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Is 8 hours considered a long time to stand watch continuous?  We fly missions longer than that (my longest was just over 1/2 a day) and sometimes aside from going to the bathroom, making coffee or grabbing food you are in the seat doing the business.  We also have mandated crew rest before we do a mission, and we can't do "maximum crew day" events day after day after day either.  People get fatigued quickly and there isn't much you can do to stay awake other than pour more coffee and get out of the seat for a bit.
 

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Eye In The Sky said:
Is 8 hours considered a long time to stand watch continuous?  We fly missions longer than that (my longest was just over 1/2 a day) and sometimes aside from going to the bathroom, making coffee or grabbing food you are in the seat doing the business.  We also have mandated crew rest before we do a mission, and we can't do "maximum crew day" events day after day after day either.  People get fatigued quickly and there isn't much you can do to stay awake other than pour more coffee and get out of the seat for a bit.

That's the thing though - the crew rest limits for consecutive max crew days wouldn't work for sailing as it's a 24/7 operation once away from port.  That's why I'd be interested to know what the USN comes up with.
 

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Eye In The Sky said:
Is 8 hours considered a long time to stand watch continuous?  We fly missions longer than that (my longest was just over 1/2 a day) and sometimes aside from going to the bathroom, making coffee or grabbing food you are in the seat doing the business.  We also have mandated crew rest before we do a mission, and we can't do "maximum crew day" events day after day after day either.  People get fatigued quickly and there isn't much you can do to stay awake other than pour more coffee and get out of the seat for a bit.

Traditionally 8 hours is considered long.  But to put it in perspective you are supposed to be out of your rack a 0700 and can't go back down generally until rounds were done in the evening(2100 in some cases). Sometimes there was understanding if you had a night watch (say 0000-0400) and you could go down right after supper, but other ships didn't care and you could only get undisturbed rack time after rounds.  Other times you just pulled over your curtain and slept through the rounds and no one bugged you. Also though a watch might be 4 hours long you could easily have had that 4 hours in the middle of the night or twice in a day at different times for 8 hours total watch along with whatever day work you have. And then there are specials, drills and training taking up other time.

With straight 8's if you aren't on watch you can do whatever you like generally... sleep, relax, PT.  Most of the crew who trialed it loved straight 8's from what I hear.  However the cooks were not as happy with it during the trial.  They were cooking 9+ times a day for meals at all hours, not to mention when do you do the breakfast meal vice the lunch etc... I have not sailed using straight 8's so can' speak from any direct experience.

DRDC did a large sleep study on Montreal where they tried many different watch rotations, and looked at efficiency/attentiveness through a watch.  You might be able to find the results if you look.

Watches are I find the hardest thing to explain to non-navy.  It's all very variable with each ship, crewing, type of operation, position, department and command team preferences.
 

Eye In The Sky

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Underway said:
Traditionally 8 hours is considered long.  But to put it in perspective you are supposed to be out of your rack a 0700 and can't go back down generally until rounds were done in the evening(2100 in some cases). Sometimes there was understanding if you had a night watch (say 0000-0400) and you could go down right after supper, but other ships didn't care and you could only get undisturbed rack time after rounds.  Other times you just pulled over your curtain and slept through the rounds and no one bugged you. Also though a watch might be 4 hours long you could easily have had that 4 hours in the middle of the night or twice in a day at different times for 8 hours total watch along with whatever day work you have. And then there are specials, drills and training taking up other time.

With straight 8's if you aren't on watch you can do whatever you like generally... sleep, relax, PT.  Most of the crew who trialed it loved straight 8's from what I hear.  However the cooks were not as happy with it during the trial.  They were cooking 9+ times a day for meals at all hours, not to mention when do you do the breakfast meal vice the lunch etc... I have not sailed using straight 8's so can' speak from any direct experience.

DRDC did a large sleep study on Montreal where they tried many different watch rotations, and looked at efficiency/attentiveness through a watch.  You might be able to find the results if you look.

Watches are I find the hardest thing to explain to non-navy.  It's all very variable with each ship, crewing, type of operation, position, department and command team preferences.

And hard to understand for someone like me who has done army and air force but never sailed.  I thought your 'watch' was your work day/duty time.  Specials and mids and all that stuff...is just... ??? to me.  I REALLY appreciate my schedule now...I have a brief time, a takeoff time and a land time.
 

Eye In The Sky

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Dimsum said:
That's the thing though - the crew rest limits for consecutive max crew days wouldn't work for sailing as it's a 24/7 operation once away from port.  That's why I'd be interested to know what the USN comes up with.

Are there any regs now, at all, for sailing and max watch times/max # of watches that can be conducted?
 

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Underway said:
Traditionally 8 hours is considered long.  But to put it in perspective you are supposed to be out of your rack a 0700 and can't go back down generally until rounds were done in the evening(2100 in some cases). Sometimes there was understanding if you had a night watch (say 0000-0400) and you could go down right after supper, but other ships didn't care and you could only get undisturbed rack time after rounds.  Other times you just pulled over your curtain and slept through the rounds and no one bugged you. Also though a watch might be 4 hours long you could easily have had that 4 hours in the middle of the night or twice in a day at different times for 8 hours total watch along with whatever day work you have. And then there are specials, drills and training taking up other time.

With straight 8's if you aren't on watch you can do whatever you like generally... sleep, relax, PT.  Most of the crew who trialed it loved straight 8's from what I hear.  However the cooks were not as happy with it during the trial.  They were cooking 9+ times a day for meals at all hours, not to mention when do you do the breakfast meal vice the lunch etc... I have not sailed using straight 8's so can' speak from any direct experience.

DRDC did a large sleep study on Montreal where they tried many different watch rotations, and looked at efficiency/attentiveness through a watch.  You might be able to find the results if you look.

Watches are I find the hardest thing to explain to non-navy.  It's all very variable with each ship, crewing, type of operation, position, department and command team preferences.

We trialed straight 8's on the Kingston Class during WUP's, crew fatigue was a big factor. We had some personnel up for 24 hours when they had to fix equipment and the like. MCR watch keepers during the back watch found it hard as meals had to be served in the MCR and there was no reliefs. If we had more personnel it might work however we are seriously looking at reducing the core crew significantly. Keep in mind as well this is great when nothing is happening, but between exercises, breakdowns, maintenance CRR's it eats into your off time.
 

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How do the standard shifts compare to straight 8s when there's equipment to be fixed? It seems like it'd be the same problem if you only have 1 of 1 to fix that particular piece of kit.
 

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PuckChaser said:
How do the standard shifts compare to straight 8s when there's equipment to be fixed? It seems like it'd be the same problem if you only have 1 of 1 to fix that particular piece of kit.

Currently on the frigates the two engineering dept's are running a 1 in 2 rotation usually.  That means generally 7 on, 7 off, 5 on, 5 off, but the hours can be modified.  They aren't running straight 8's.  Once again different dept's do different things.

Some of the department is standing the engineering watch (which consists of 3 pers for MSE and 1 pers for CSE), they are basically monitoring systems . The other half of the watch are the maintenance watch who are technically not "standing" the watch but are awake and either doing maintenance tasks, admin or other assigned duties.  They are available to respond to engineering emergencies/problems.  If there is a problem with any equipment the on watch pers will call and task an appropriate maintenance watch pers to deal with the problem (after taking any immediate required actions such as switching to a backup/redundant system).

The next watch should have a similar set of techs who will come on and ideally have the problem turned over to them if it can't be fixed in time.  If the problem requires a specific pers to stay awake, allowances can be made within the dept to cover off or get the work done.

Note that this is not damage control, just equipment maintenance and repairs.  Damage control is a who different ball of wax.
 

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PuckChaser said:
How do the standard shifts compare to straight 8s when there's equipment to be fixed? It seems like it'd be the same problem if you only have 1 of 1 to fix that particular piece of kit.

It depends on the manning and the size of the repair; for critical big jobs we pulled a team off the watches and went to a skeleton crew and that became their job until it was done. There are always things with that one key sailor (even on a fully manned deployed CPF), but you manage the best you can. But sometimes it can suck and they'll be at it until they start dropping, break for a four hour kip, and get back at it.

Ideally you pass the repair from watch to watch, but not always possible if it's something that only a few people have experience with. In those cases we tried to have the few folks that knew what to do have a larger team helping them spread across watches (to force the 'tell two friends' idea) but sometimes it's best to keep the same small team on it all the time.

The plus side though with most of the crew being on the 1 in 2 system is that the down time is normally actually downtime; that didn't really happen before in the 1 in 3 that some of the ship was on (at least on the MSE side, sometimes guys would end up being on special watches on the off time on top off repairs so fatigue became an issue; it's not uncommon in those cases when you are sitting around 'in case of..' to take turns napping in place).

Not sure why tracking sleep in the navy is only a new thing; I can think of a number of times when I was running around on a few hours sleep spread out over a week where I was in no way useful and barely coherent but had to turn to a briefing/meeting/mandatory training or whatever, because it's impossible not to just let people do their job and not fill the schedule with busy work all day.

 

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Navy_Pete said:
Not sure why tracking sleep in the navy is only a new thing; I can think of a number of times when I was running around on a few hours sleep spread out over a week where I was in no way useful and barely coherent but had to turn to a briefing/meeting/mandatory training or whatever, because it's impossible not to just let people do their job and not fill the schedule with busy work all day.

I think a lot of it is the "we always did it this way!" and/or the "suck it up and carry on" train of thought. 

The USN is really only looking into it this time (and their training/currency processes, etc) because 2 destroyers were involved in collisions in a relatively short amount of time. 
 

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Safety has a price and in our world, this price is normally a reduced operational flexibility.  Having said that, it is far cheaper than an accident. 

Leadership will have to adjust to what they ask and the Navy won't always be able to do what they are asked to do.  The world will keep turning and the machine will keep going.  It is an attitude and mentality change that will be beneficial in the long run.  Of course, with proper authority, rules can be broken.  But these whould be kept for the Defence of Canada and war-time operational necessity.

For pilots, we can be on-duty for up to 14 hrs a day, followed by 12 hours of uninterrupted time away from duty,  a CO can authorize up to 16 hrs, provided the crew is given the same amount of rest afterwards.  We are limited to 12 hours on duty for flights with NVGs. 

We can fly up to 8 hrs a day, which can be extended to 10 hrs for long range ferry flights.

If we travel over an ocean, we need 72 hrs of rest before we can resume flying duties.

I find those to be archaic as they do not take into account issues related with being on-duty at times when your body should be sleeping (circadian rhythm).
 

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SupersonicMax said:
Safety has a price and in our world, this price is normally a reduced operational flexibility.  Having said that, it is far cheaper than an accident. 

Leadership will have to adjust to what they ask and the Navy won't always be able to do what they are asked to do.  The world will keep turning and the machine will keep going.  It is an attitude and mentality change that will be beneficial in the long run.  Of course, with proper authority, rules can be broken.  But these whould be kept for the Defence of Canada and war-time operational necessity.

For fighter pilots, we can be on-duty for up to 14 hrs a day, followed by 12 hours of uninterrupted time away from duty,  a CO can authorize up to 16 hrs, provided the crew is given the same amount of rest afterwards.  We are limited to 12 hours on duty for flights with NVGs.  We can fly up to 8 hrs a day, which can be extended to 10 hrs for long range ferry flights.

If we travel over an ocean, we need 72 hrs of rest before we can resume flying duties. [LRP crew days are different (*longer)...as are the other communities of flyers]

I find those to be archaic as they do not take into account issues related with being on-duty at times when your body should be sleeping (circadian rhythm).

The medical/science knowledge when our flying orders were written has changed somewhat and, at least some, flight surgeons/doc's are aware of the problem with fatigue.  They were doing a study of it on one of my HappyLand stints in the past few years and it was a bit of an eye opener when they discussed levels of impairment. 

* we have the option to bring a front end with spare pilot and FE(s) and there is a bunk to rack out on in Stbd Fwd.  I do envy the "72 hours of rest for flight over an ocean".  Man would our folks ever love that one!!
 

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Eye In The Sky said:
The medical/science knowledge when our flying orders were written has changed somewhat and, at least some, flight surgeons/doc's are aware of the problem with fatigue.  They were doing a study of it on one of my HappyLand stints in the past few years and it was a bit of an eye opener when they discussed levels of impairment. 

* we have the option to bring a front end with spare pilot and FE(s) and there is a bunk to rack out on in Stbd Fwd.  I do envy the "72 hours of rest for flight over an ocean".  Man would our folks ever love that one!!

Technology has gone a long way it seems for at least the civilian world to reducing workload.  I would expect that most of those rest regulations were made before the advent of reliable autopilot, autolanding systems, improved navigation systems and various other "assists" to make cockpit management more user friendly.  If this isn't the case feel free to pile on (not that anyone here needs an excuse... ;D).

I'm not saying you don't fatigue but I wouldn't be surprised if the fatigue rate for straight shots and simple missions with pilots today is lower and the loss of effectiveness curve is generally more gradual than "yesteryear". 

I can certainly say for bridge watches the switch from paper charts to electronic charts made the OOW position less tiring by reducing the navigation workload, at least on the MCDV where you didn't have a 2OOW.  Of course there is something to be said of keeping busy through an entire watch as well, keeping you sharp and not letting you relax, thus missing something.
 

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One of the benefits all the tech doesn't help is the 'what time you are flying' aspect;  I've been on a Det where we were getting up at 2300L, 0100 brief for a 0400 takeoff.  Doing that for 3 months will mess you up.  While the tech has helped in some ways...it has also made things more work intense;  we can take it an exceptionally large amount of data and comms.  It all has to be managed.  Dry sensors are the best off IMO on our crew;  we have 3 stations/seats we rotate thru.  Some people sit the same seat from wheels up to wheels down and rarely do they have a replacement (like the Tactical Navigator, who might also be the crew commander).  For tactical/operational endurance we need multiple crews and planes, where as you have more bodies who can stand different watch.

*Misson time* has a big factor on fatigue.  Or, the favorite "changing your mission time for 1 day" in the middle of a week.  Doesn't sound like much, but swinging your sleep schedule around will bag you if you are on a set block time and are into that routine.  Thank god for melatonin and big coffee mugs.

At the end of the day, regardless of everything, our orders are written so that any aircrew member can self-ground, that includes fatigue.  If that is say, the only FE you have on the crew, that plane isn't going anywhere and I wouldn't want to go on it if the FE (or anyone) was that fatigued that they pulled their red card out. 

So, for someone like me, how would you describe what a 'watch' is it its not your duty period?  I see comments about stuff going on outside of your 'watch'...so I am alittle confused.

 
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