After the disturbing discovery that several air traffic controllers had been caught sleeping on the job, an internationally renowned sleep expert is recommending that air traffic controllers be allowed to take on-the-job naps to combat fatigue. A member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and former director of the Stanford University sleep research center, Mark Rosekind suggested that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) consider mandating naps during late-night shifts to help air traffic controllers stay alert on the job.
While some have scoffed at the idea of paying air traffic controllers to nap on the job, the practice is already in use in other work settings where workers must work long shifts and perform critical tasks without adequate sleep. Most 24-hour industries are either subject to federal regulations that dictate break periods to prevent worker fatigue or have implemented similar policies of their own. Long-range truck drivers, state police officers, emergency room physicians and nurses are among those subject to required rest periods between shifts. Realizing the importance of sleep in maintaining alertness, hospitals have long provided napping rooms for emergency room doctors.
Scientific studies have shown that a 20- to 30-minute nap can refresh the body and mind, staving off fatigue so that workers remain alert on the job. If naps work for your 2-year-old, there’s no reason they shouldn’t work for air traffic controllers!