Gregory Belenky, MD, FAPA
Hans P. A. Van Dongen, PhD
Sleep & Performance Research Center
We've all been there: That moment behind the wheel when your head snaps upright and you realize you've been dozing. But what if that sleepy operator were an airplane pilot? Or the driver of a semi truck?
Most sleep researchers examine disorders such as narcolepsy or insomnia. Only a handful of research centers in the world examine how sleep affects performance primarily in "normals"—the people with no known sleep disorders who make up the vast majority of the population.
One of these centers is at WSU Spokane.
Dr. Gregory Belenky and Dr. Hans Van Dongen examine critical questions of sleep and performance in normal people going about their everyday lives.
Managing Sleep in a 24/7 World
Think of sleep as a vital resource, to be managed the way food or fuel supplies are. How do you know you'll have enough to finish the job, and to perform at the level expected? Drs. Belenky and Van Dongen are developing the scientific basis for managing sleep to sustain operational performance, safety, productivity, health, and well-being.
In studies on the effects of mild, moderate, and severe sleep restriction on human performance, they have demonstrated that performance degradation depends on the sleep dose—the greater the sleep restriction, the worse the performance—and that even mild sleep restriction degrades performance.
The work of Drs. Belenky and Van Dongen could change the way we view—and manage—our sleep: as the critical performance resource it really is. This is the emerging field of operational fatigue risk management.