As I progress further along in my flying career I begin to notice the amount of sleep I obtain each night dwindle away... So... any advice on how to over come the feeling that it's an effort just to keep my eyes open...energy drinks and coffee only do so much....:drool: ???
I don't think there is anyway around the good ole' natural way. Sort of like asking how to do away with malnutrition without eating more food. I've stayed up working for 24-36 hour periods, and inevitably my body engages in an extended crash to make up for it. I probably would have gotten more done if I had done an 16/8 schedule over the whole time period. In the long run, you just can't cheat it. That's my body's experience at least.
I work 3 jobs, which total over 60 hours a week, and I've found the key is consistency. Even on the weekends I'll only sleep in til 0900 at the absolute latest. I usually wake up to go hunting around 5 or 6 to stay consistent. It's almost impossible to wake up Monday morning if I stayed out til 3 on Saturday night.
1. no caffeine 12 hours before sleeping (will help you sleep better)
2. beware of sleeping pills, some are NOT approved for use in pilots per the FAA (Lunesta is one i think...go check with "ask a flight surgeon")
3. the bed is for sleeping and sex....that's it. No TV, no books, no eating etc.
4. engage in good "sleep hygiene" This covers a large number of ideas, so here's a link from one of the founders of sleep medicine (Dr. Bill Dement): http://www.stanford.edu/~dement/howto.html
5. Avoid TV and computer about 3-4 hours before trying to sleep. Both set your brain into an increased alpha-wave pattern....bad for sleeping.
6. exercise and such as other have said is a very good idea.
7. Multiple studies have shown that, despite caffeine and other stimulants, you are still a dumb-ass if you haven't slept enough. Reaction times are slowed, thinking is muddled, logic becomes more illogical etc.