How to Prevent Pilot Fatigue: Tips Before Take-Off

 |  Blog

Pilots need to be well rested to be able to focus on their flights. Before being able to legally fly a plane pilots must realize the condition they are in before take-off. If a pilot isn’t well rested this can be one of the biggest threats to passengers and other pilots in the air. Being rested is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your passengers safety.

We understand that pilots tend to go through many time changes and long flights, so rest may not be on the top of a pilot’s mind. Because fatigue will only get worse as you fly through the air we want to be sure you take a few preventative measures. To help combat your fatigue follow 6 tips we have provided below for you!

1. Water, Water, Water

Being dehydrated, especially in the air is not good for you! You are much more likely to become dehydrated in the cockpit of the plane than on the ground, so be certain you drink plenty of water. Avoiding water will make pilot fatigue that much worse, so be certain to soak it up!

Follow your own rules on drinking water. If you feel thirsty – drink! If you don’t feel thirsty – still drink!  Avoid sugary drinks such as sodas in the air as those will make your dehydration worse.

2. Eat the Right Foods

We are sure you’ve always been told, food gives you fuel, and the right fuel gives you energy. You want to be sure that you are eating when you need to, but also eating the right foods. As a pilot you want to be sure you are eating the right amount at the right times.

Eating healthy is one of the best ways to put proper fuel into your body. We understand how difficult it can be to avoid processed and over sugary foods on the go, but healthy foods will keep you more alert and energized than quick rushes of sugar. Since life as a pilot is demanding and rigorous you want to be sure you give your body the right amount of food. Focus on eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, proteins, and carbohydrates.

Directly before a flight it is smart to eat foods that contain high complex carbohydrates. These foods can include pasta, lentils, potatoes, beans, and oats.

3. Don’t Drink Too Much Caffeine

Who doesn’t love a good cup of coffee or tea to start their morning? But you need to be careful how much caffeine you are consuming as it often leads to sleep deprivation. You want your coffee and tea intake to be a boost for you during the day, not something you depend on to make it every day.

We know that it can be easy to start depending on caffeinated drinks such as soda and energy drinks, but the high sugar in these will often lead you to have a mental crash. Stick to your main caffeine boosts like tea, coffee, and chocolate (preferably dark chocolate).

4. Exercise

Staying in shape as a pilot while constantly moving around can be difficult. It’s so much easier to just grab a snack in the airport and go. But by exercising you can keep your fatigue down during flights and your energy levels high.

Do your best to up your on-the-go workout routines. While you may not always have a gym handy you can do exercises that don’t require weights and can be done in your hotel room!

5. Sleep Consistently

AeroGuard understands that consistent sleep is not easy for anyone, especially a pilot. Traveling to different time zones can take a toll on your sleep schedule, but it is important that you continuously get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. While this is easier said than done we have a few tips to help you do this.

  •     Wear ear plugs
  •     Use a sleeping mask
  •     Switch your watch to your destination time a few days prior to flying
  •     Spend time outdoors during daylight
  •     Log your sleep hours

Even if you need to catch up on sleep during the day it is important to try and block out any distractions. Getting proper sleep is necessary to your health and performance as a pilot.

6. Take Advantage of Naps

Remember as a child when your guardians forced you to take naps and how much you hated it? Well now you will love naps and want to take advantage of them as much as possible! A 20-30-minute map is all you need to help fight pilot fatigue. A short burst of rest will help to improve alertness in your day.

However, you want to be sure your nap isn’t too long. Sleeping more than 30 minutes can lead to being groggier and more fatigued than when you set your head on that pillow.

In Conclusion:

While you may be thinking, “Oh I get 5-6 hours of sleep each night, I’m fine.” think again! Although each person’s body runs on a different amount of sleep necessary for them it is important to remember you are a pilot. Being a pilot is a rigorous and extremely rewarding job, so you want to be sure you are on your A game for your next flight. Pilot fatigue is something you want to do your best at avoiding. If you are looking to become a pilot learn from the best at AeroGuard and our partners SkyWest Airlines! Contact us today and change your life for the better.

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