Age, circadian rhythms, and sleep loss in flight crews

Aviat Space Environ Med. 1993 Mar;64(3 Pt 1):189-95.


Age-related changes in trip-induced sleep loss, personality (n = 205), and the pre-duty temperature rhythm (n = 91) were analyzed in crews from various flight operations. Eveningness decreased with age (subjects aged 20-30 were more evening-type than subjects over 40). The minimum of the baseline temperature rhythm occurred earlier with age (earlier in subjects aged 30-50 than in subjects aged 20-30). The amplitude of the baseline temperature rhythm declined with age (greater in subjects aged 20-30 than in subjects over 40). Average daily percentage sleep loss during trips increased with age. Among crewmembers flying longhaul flight operations, subjects aged 50-60 averaged 3.5 times more sleep loss per day than subjects aged 20-30. These studies support previous findings that evening types and subjects with later peaking temperature rhythms adapt better to shift work and time zone changes. Age and circadian type may be important considerations for duty schedules and fatigue countermeasures.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Aerospace Medicine*
  • Aging* / physiology
  • Body Temperature
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality
  • Sleep Deprivation*