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Archive for September 2008

  On the heels of a report criticizing the federal governments efforts to ensure that truck drivers are medically qualified, the House transportation committee’s chair man blasted the top   truck safety agency for not living up to tis mission and for dragging its feet on the health issue.

Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, laid into the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admin. for not moving fast enough to implement congressional mandates or recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board.

“It shouldn’t take you eight years. It shouldn’t take you five years. Or three years,” Oberstar said during a July 24 hearing by the committee. “People’s lives are at stake, and they are depending on you and your colleagues. We’ve given you a half-billion dollar [annual] budget, practically, to do this. There is no excuse for foot-dragging.”

Oberstar’s comments were in response to a Government Accountability Office report that said hundreds of thousands of drivers have potentially serious medical conditions, some significant enough to prevent them from driving a truck.

During the hearing, Rose McMurray, FMCSA’s chief safety officer, defended the agency’s work on driver health issues, telling the committee the agency was committed to completing rules later this year that would address most of NTSB’s recommendations.

“Four of the NTSB’s eight most-wanted recommendations will addressed by the medical certification and national registry rules,” she said, adding that the remaining recommendations would be addressed by the agency’s medical review board.

The top Republican on the committee’s panel on highways, Rep. John Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) also questioned the GAO (Government Accountability Office) conclusions.

“I am concerned this report will be seen by some to imply a broader problem in the CDL population,” he said. “In fact, the report makes it clear that these 15 cases are not representative of the commercial driver population.”

Oberstar was unconvinced and pointed to a report by the transportation committee’s staff that also noted issues with the medical certification program.

“Staff got 600 medical card from drivers at truck weigh stations, and thy tried to verify them with the medical examiners who issued the card, or allegedly issued the card,” he said. “The report documents 30 cases -5%- where the medical examiner didn’t exist, or the medical examiner indicated that the signature of that person had been forged or changed.”

Oberstar, as well as, Rep Peter DeFazio, the chairman of the highways sub-committee, pressed McMurrayto explain why the agency has taken so long with its medical rules, which she said have been “difficult to develop.”

DeFazio asked McMurray if the agency had the resources to complete the rules, but she answered that it wasn’t a “matter of resources, as much as it is a problem of expertise.”

McMurray also said that “other rule-makings” have taken priority over the medical rules, but without specifying which ones.

The rules are also complicated by cost issues, she said, telling Oberstar they are “a significant burden on states.”

That burden, McMurray said, comes in costs to upgrade information technology to handle new databases, and new training requirements for enforcement officers and medical examiners.

“The sheer size of the driver population will require thousands of certified medical examiners to evaluate drivers,” McMurray also added.

Oberstar, however, said the agency lacked “a safety mindset,” and, if it had one, “you would have done this in the last eight years.”

“What we need is will -and willpower- at the highest levels, he said. “And it is apparent there isn’t that will at the level of the secretary of Transportation and permeates all the way down through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.”

 

 

If you have a teenager dreading the thought of that early wake up call on the first day of school, there is something you can do about it:

Practice.

Sleep experts are saying it’s tough for teens to get enough sleep because their natural body clocks are rarely in sync with the school bell. That’s why the National Sleep Foundation urges teen to start resetting their internal clock before the start of the new school year. For some teens, the process takes only a few days. But the many others, it can be several weeks before the internal clock come to terms with the crack of down.

But, you put the blame on puberty. According to kidshealth.org, the teenaged body wants to fall alseep later at night and then sleep later into the morning. That may work for the summer vacation, but once the school year starts that natural sleep cycle is interrupted. You go to bed when you’re tired, and wake up to an alarm clock or Mom knocking loudly on the door. That’s why many high-schoolers go to class without the 8.5 to 9 hours of sleep their bodys naturally need.

Because of their unique sleep needs, teenagers’ brains are not ready to be alert until long after the  typical high school day has already begun. The disconnect between teens’ natural sleep rhythm and the timing imposed by the school day was analyzed by the Sleep Disorders Center at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut. Students in the study attended classes where the start of the school day was delayed by 40 minutes, from 7:35 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. The study found that the students slept an average of 33 minutes longer each night and were less likely to be tired when classes began.

Of course, it’s not likely that you will be able to convince school authorities to reset the clock in time for the new school year. So here are some tips for resetting the body’s clock:

  • In the weeks before the new school year, start going to bed and waking up 15 minuted earlier each day – including weekends. And don’t nap during the day.
  • Stay away from caffeine and other substances which can affect sleep. Open the blinds and turn on the lights as soon as you wake up. Avoid bright lights during the evening.
  • Try to relax as bed time approaches.

If you are serious about adjusting your sleep cycle to more closely match the school day, you can’t take weekends off. Don’t go to bed more than one hour later than your weekday bedtime. Don’t sleep more than two or three hours later in the morning. Make sure you don’t go off schedule more than two nights in a row.

Getting the family to help is always a plus, an alert teen is more likely to be a happier, more emotionally stable and socially competent individual than a sleepy teen.  :)

1. The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon.  The record  holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses.

2. Anything less than five minutes to fall asleep at night means you’re sleep deprived. The ideal is between 10 and 15 minutes, meaning you’re still tired enough to sleep deeply, but no so exhausted you feel sleepy by day.

3. It’s impossible to tell if someone is really awake without close medical supervison. People can take cat naps with their eyes open without even being aware of it, microsleep.

4. A new baby typically results in 400-750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first year.

5. One of the best predicors of insomnia later in life is the development of bad habits from having been sleep deprived by young children.

6. The continuous brain recordings that led to the discovery of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep were not done until 1953, partly because the scientists involved were concerned about wasting paper.

7. REM sleep occurs in bursts totaling about 2 hours a night, usually beginning about 90 minutes after falling asleep.

8. Dreams, once thought to occure only during REM sleep, also occure (but to a lesser extent) in non-REM sleep phases. It’s possible there may not be a single moment of our sleep when we are actually dreamless.

9. REM dreams are characterized by bizarre plots, but non-REM dreams are repetirive and thought-like, with little imagery obesessively returning to a suspicion that you left your mobile phone somewhere, for example.

10. Certain types of eye movements during REM sleep correspond to specific movements in dreams, suggesting at least part of the dreaming process is analogous to watching a film.

11. No-one knows for sure if other species dream, but some do have similar sleep cycles to humans.

12. Elephants sleep standing up during non-REM sleep, but lie down for REM sleep.

13. Some scientists believe we dream to fix experiences in long-term memory, that is, we dream about things worth remembering. Others reckon we dream about things worth forgetting to eliminate overlapping memories that would otherwise clog up our brains.

14. Dreams may not serve any purpose at all but be merely a meaningless byproduct of two evolutionary adaptations: sleep and consciousness.

15. REM sleep may help developing brains mature. Premature babies have 75 percent REM sleep, 20 percent more than full-term babies. Similerly, a newborn kitten, puppy, rat or hamster experiences only REM sleep, while a  newborn guinea pig (which is much more developed at birth) has almost no REM sleep at all.

16. Scientists have not been able to explain a 1998 study showing a bright light shone on the backs of human knees can reset the brain’s sleep-wake clock.

17. British Ministy of Defense researchers has been able to reset soldiers’ body clocks so they can go without sleep for up to 36 hours. Tiny optical fibers embedded in special spectacles project a ring of bright white light ( with a spectrum identical to a sunrise) around the edge of soldiers’ retinas, fooling them into thinking they have just woken up. The system was first used on US pilots during the bombing in Kosovo.

18. Seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%.

19. The 1989 Exxon Valdex oil spill off Alaska, the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Chernobyl nuclear accident have all been attributed to human errors in which sleep-deprivation played a role.

20. The NRMA insurance estimated fatigue is involved in one in 6 fatal road accidents.

21. Exposure to noise at night can suppress immune function even if the sleeper doesn’t wake. Unfamiliar noise, and noise during the first and last two hours of sleep, has the greatest disruptive effect on the sleep cycle.

22. The “natural alarm clock” which enables some people to wake up more or less when they want to is caused by a burst of the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin. Researchers say this reflects an unconscious anticipation of the stress of waking up.

23. Some sleeping tablets, such as barbiturates supress REM sleep, which can be harmful over a long period.

24. In insomnia following bereavement, sleeping pills can disrupt grieving.

25. Tiny luminous rays froma digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt the sleep cycle even if you are not fully awake. The light turns off a “neutral switch” in the brain, causing levels of a key sleep chemical to decline within minutes.

26. To doze off, we must cool off; body temperature and the brain’s sleep-wake cycle are closely linked. That’s why hot summer nights can cause a restless sleep. The blood flow mechanism that transfer core body heat to the skin works best between 18-30 degress. But later in life, the comfort zone shrinks to between 23-25 degress, one reason why older people have more sleep disorders.

27. A night on the grog (alochol) will help you get to sleep but it will be a light slumber and you won’t dream much.

28. After five nights of partial sleep deprivation, three drinks will have the same effect on your body as six would when you’ve slept enough.

29. Humans sleep on average around three hours less than other primates like chimps, rhesus monkeys, squirrel monkeys and baboons, all of whome sleep for 10 hours.

30. Dolphins at risk of attack by predators are able to balance the need for sleep and survival, keeping one half of the brain awake while the other slips into sleep mode.

31. Ten percent of snorers have sleep apnea, a disorder which causes sufferers to stop breathing up to 300 times a night and significantly increases the risk of sufferig a heart attack or stroke.

32. Snoring occurs only in noo-REM sleep.

33. Teenagers need as much sleep as small children ( about 10 hrs.) while those over 65 need the least of all ( about six hours). For the average adult aged 25-55, eight hours is considered optimal.

34. Some studies suggest women need up to an hour’s extra sleep a night compared to men, and not getting it may be one reason women are much more susceptible to depression than men.

35. Feeling tired can feel normal after a short time. Those deliberately deprived of sleep for research initially noticed greatly the effects on their alterness, mood and physical performance, but the awareness dropped off after the first few days.

36. Diaries from the pre-electric-light-globe Victorian era show adults slept nine to ten hours a night with periods of rest changing with the seasons in line with sunrise and sunsets.

37. Most of what we know about sleep we’ve learned in the past 25 years.

38. As a group, 18-24 year-olds deprived of sleep suffer more from impaired performance than older adults.

39. Experts say one of the most alluring sleep distractions is the 24-hour accessibility of the internet.

40. The extra-hour of sleep received when clock are put back at the start of daylight savings has been found to coincide with a fall in the number of road accidents.

Tired foreign truck drivers have been pleading with UK police to arrest them so they can get some food and sleep, says a senior officer. Chief superintendent Ceraint Anwyl, chairman of the National Roads Policing, says drivers have been phoning forces across Britain to ask to spend the night in jail so they can take a break from driving, despite the fact it also means paying a fine. The drivers give details of their registration and where they are.

They are often discovered to have been driving unsafe vehicles for 30 hours without a break, and are arrested and charged with failing to keep a proper driving record or ignoring tachograph readings. Anwyl says: “They say I am tired. I have been driving for so many hours; please stop me because I’m dangerous on the road. If you do, I promise I’ll never work for this company again.”

It has come to the point where truckers have to turn themselves in because they are so tired, that’s just so sad to hear. There are so many dangers with someone aiding a large vehicle and not being completely coherent, and drowsy. Hopefully things will look up when D.O.T makes some changes to help these drivers. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have the many things it take to supply a home, a business, and our economy.

 


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