Night Hub Turn Sleep Strategies - 7/28/15 (Positive Rate)
Night Hub Turn Sleep Strategies - 7/28/15 (Positive Rate)



Night Hub Turn Sleep Strategies

Our 4-consecutive night hub sleep data collected from IND and AFW study shows some common sleep strategies and we would like to pass them along. Please discuss these strategies with other pilots and introduce these strategies to new hire pilots as they come to the line.

Layover Sleep
We recommend you find a room that suits you best at each layover hotel. For example, you may like a room that faces west or north (less sunlight). You may like a room that does not face traffic. A room with good window darkening curtains is important. A room that will be cool enough for the pilot’s individual needs is also important. Earplugs and sleep masks are good sleep enhancers, if they work for you.   A “white noise” generator may also help reduce the number of times you are awakened by noise outside your room. Free apps supported by your company iPad are available.

Be sure to ask for specific rooms at check in. If you like room 310, ask for it. FedEx spends a lot of money on hotel rooms. Usually, the front desk staff will be helpful with your room requests.

3 Sleeping Periods
A large group of pilots chose this strategy. These pilots will sleep upon arrival at a layover hotel; wake for much of the day; nap prior to show time; and then sleep again during the hub turn.

A number of factors could influence a pilot to choose 3 sleep periods: the scheduled arrival and layover times allow for a nap; the individual may have a strong Secondary Window Of Circadian Low (SWOCL), which is indicated by a person who naps regularly, at work or at home; and a nap prior to departure does not have a negative affect on their hub turn sleep. 

2 Sleeping Periods
Another large group of pilots chose this strategy. These pilots will sleep longer upon arrival at layover hotel, maximizing the amount of sleep they can get after each hub turn duty period. Then their next sleep will be during the hub turn. We found that pilots quickly fell asleep when they lay down in their darkened sleep room. We also found that approximately 2 hours of sleep was available for 3:30 hub turns (block in to block out).

1 Sleeping Period
A very small minority of pilots acquired all their sleep in a 24-hour period in one sleep. Often, these pilots would arrive at their layover relatively early and sleep for 7 or more hours. These pilots had a schedule that did not allow for hub turn sleep, or they chose not to sleep during the hub turn. We do not recommend this strategy. If you are delayed arriving at your layover or your pairing is changed, you may have an extended awake period. Science has proven being awake for over 18 hours decreases reaction times and other physical capabilities.


Regardless of your sleep strategy, the goal is to maintain a rolling 7-8 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period to minimize the effects of accumulated sleep debt. Typically, a nap in the hub helps most pilots maintain a higher level of alertness during critical duty periods than is possible without a nap. A high number of consecutive hours awake combined with your circadian cycle can produce strong sleep impulses during the arrival phase of flight (0600-0800 body clock).