Tired driving, know before you go!

Kirk Clark, 341st Medical Operations Squadron health promotion coordinator, briefs Airmen Nov. 7, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Kirk Clark, 341st Medical Operations Squadron health promotion coordinator, briefs Airmen Nov. 7, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. As a missile operations base, some Airmen can spend more than 10 hours on duty, which requires staying alert and utilizing fatigue management. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Truesdell)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Some jobs require multiple hours of alertness, and to stay awake, some Airmen rely on energy drinks, which can mask a person's tiredness.

With the holiday season coming up, Airmen travelling on the roads to visit family and friends might not realize they need proper sleep to function if they are driving with an energy drink in hand.

"What we do a lot of here at Malmstrom is shift work. We Band-Aid it with energy drinks of all sorts," said Kirk Clark, 341st Medical Operations Squadron health promotion coordinator. "And we use alcohol to induce sleep. Any of these behaviors reduce the quality of sleep we can get."

"Now, take an Airman who has been doing this for the last 60 days and they’re driving home for Thanksgiving," he continued. "You pulled a pin out of a grenade, put it in a car and said, Go!"

Getting proper sleep before a trip reduces fatigue. Proper nutrition, planning and exercise help, too.

Because it's not convenient, we won't set our environment up for proper sleep. That's the problem," said Clark.

The sleep environment plays a major role. It can be the TV being on for white noise, a specific pillow or blanket, anything promoting sleep promotes health, too.

Rest - the Airman's perspective
At Malmstrom, a majority of personnel include security forces and maintainers, who both pull shifts longer than the average eight-hour work day.

Although maintainers recently reduced their work shifts to 12 hours, Airmen still monitor themselves and their wingmen to ensure the mission continues safely.

"As a team chief, I usually tell anyone on my team that if they’re tired, let people know and don’t push it," said Staff Sgt. Taylor Steinbarth, 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron electromechanical team chief.

Maintainers, just like defenders, post out to missile alert facilities and launch facilities for their duties, which means they stay overnight in the missile complex.

"When we’re out at a MAF or LF, there are certain amount of steps you need to do before you can actually touch something," said Senior Airman Dimitri McDuffie, 341st MMXS technician. "If you are tired or overlooking something, that mistake could potentially injure somebody.

Real sleep is non-REM
We have two types of sleep: rapid eye movement and non-REM," said Clark. "A nap refreshes us after being zonked out for 15 minutes, but we’re not fully recovered."

"The non-REM is what we need. It's a true deep, deep sleep to help us fully recover," he continued. If you're relying on naps to restore you, that's not going to do it for human performance."

Whether used to prevent or induce sleep, factors such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and tobacco negate the benefits of both non-REM and REM sleep, according to Clark.

At work or at home, fatigue mitigation plays a critical role in how the body functions. Remember with the holiday season and travelling on the road to practice proper sleeping habits to get to your destination safely.

A fatigue mitigation brief is offered on base and required for Airmen who drive on Malmstrom. Each class starts at 3 p.m. Sign ups are not required.

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.