Queen of Sleep

Living with narcolepsy: a personal journey

Pilot was snoring before Air India crash

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The Guardian featured last week an article on the investigation into the plane crash in India that took place earlier this year. The article headlined Pilot was snoring before Air India crash. I had to think long and hard if it would be a good/useful article to post on Queen of Sleep. Partly, because the scenario has nightmarish qualities but also having narcolepsy and reading about something like this, where the pilot was asleep for more than half of the three-hour flight before crashing and killing 158 people made me quite emotional and sad. Emotional because he appeared not to have the sleeping disorder under control, i.e. he couldn’t have had much awareness of the sleeping disorder and his body, and sad because so many people died. It makes me wonder if he had fallen asleep flying a plane before or if he was pressurised into taking the shift. He did not have narcolepsy but another sleep disorder called Sleep Inertia. I had never heard about the condition before so I had to google it. Sleep Inertia…

…refers to the feeling of grogginess most people experience after awakening. Sleep inertia can last from 1 minute to 4 hours, but typically lasts 15-30 minutes. During this period, you are at a reduced level of capacity and may have trouble doing even simple everyday actions. Read more: http://www.sleepdex.org/inertia.htm

If you have job which involves responsibility, especially over other people’s lives managing a sleep disorder effectively becomes crucial. A few years ago, I met a lady (with narcolepsy) from Scotland who has tirelessly campaigned for increased narcolepsy awareness over the last 2-3 decades. She was absolutely convinced that diagnosed narcoleptics makes much better drivers than people without the condition because they know their own needs better, regulate and manage their sleep more consciously than the average driver. Obviously, the driver out there with an undiagnosed sleep disorder, he/she is the real traffic danger and according to research there are many more out there than we can imagine.

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Written by Queen of Sleep

November 20, 2010 at 1:34 am

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