SPOKANE, Wash. – The Sleep and Performance Research Center at WSU Spokane has received a competitively awarded $1.4 million contract from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Office of Research to investigate the relationships between work hours in the transportation sector and drivers’ sleep, performance and health.

The funding was awarded for three separate studies, which will be led by principal investigators Gregory Belenky, research professor and center director, and Hans Van Dongen, associate research professor and assistant director.
Experiments that simulate sleep schedules commercial vehicle drivers may face will take place in the Sleep and Performance Research Center’s sleep laboratory, using two brand-new, high-fidelity driving simulators in the adjacent critical job tasks simulation laboratory. A field study of motor coach drivers also will be conducted.

The researchers have already commenced work on one of the studies and plan to begin the other two studies in the course of 2009.

“These studies will address some very fundamental questions of sleep in the operational environment, including the effects of night-time work schedules, the timing of sleep and work, and performance and health consequences of split versus consolidated sleep,” said Belenky.

The outcomes of the three studies will be relevant to any operational environment in which extended work hours, shift work and 24/7 operations are commonplace, including commercial aviation, hospitals, military operations and manufacturing.