Leader - Crew Endurance
The Crew Starts With You
Operational effectiveness depends on crew endurance and crew endurance is about ensuring our people are healthy, fit, and rested to perform at their optimal level. If crew members are overly fatigued, mission accomplishment, performance, and safety are in jeopardy. Morale suffers. When applied and managed properly, crew rest acts as a force multiplier.
Prioritizing sleep requires a change in culture but also a commitment to lead by example. Find out today what you can do to help yourself and your crew.
"When the Boss Doesn't Feel Rested - the Whole Unit Pays a Price!"
The average adult needs 7 - 9 hours of quality sleep daily
Click on the buttons below to see how the amount of sleep you get over a two-week period will affect your cognitive performance
Keep Your Team Rested and Ready
Increase your Sailors endurance using a method with proven results - Circadian-Based Watchstanding Schedules. Numerous shipboard studies have shown how a circadian-based watchbill can improve operational readiness, enhance productivity, reduce stress and improve morale, especially over a long deployment.
The basics of a rested crew include:
- A focus on alert and engaged watchstanders
- Continued learning and understanding of the effects of good sleep practices amongst leadership and the crew
- Use of the 24-hour circadian rhythm to set the foundation for yourself and your crew
- The establishment of a stable daily work schedule including a watchbill that maximizes rest opportunities at the same time each day
- Requesting supporting analysis
Several circadian-based watchbills exist to help ensure that crew and staff are well rested and better prepared to perform their duties.
Become familiar with some of the watchbills and their characteristics before choosing a schedule for your crew.
Use These Watchbills
Avoid These Watchbills
Considerations for Implementation of Watchbills
- Circadian-based rotations are almost always better
- For rotation times cardinal points are simpler; use the hours of 12, 3, 6 & 9 on an analog clock face
- Forward is better for the direction of rotations; staying up and sleeping in an hour longer is easier than going to bed and waking up an hour earlier
- There should be three weeks or more in each rotation; some ships wait until port call to shift
- Weekends generally allow more flexibility with Sunday or holiday schedule for the day of rotation change
- Lengthen the Day by an hour or so, rather than making a drastic change; shifting 6 hours takes about a week to completely adjust
- Rotate forward when possible
- Shorter is better
- It is easier to maintain alertness for 3 vs 6 hours
- A 4 section watch is better than 2 or 3 section
- Consider cross rate qualification to increase flexibility
- Design the workday so that the watch and rest are included in the plan
- Establish adequate meal hours; galley hours may need to be extended to support a new watchbill
- Establish which personnel need to attend drills, briefs, and debriefs and when to hold them
- Focus major briefings and all hands evolutions on periods between breakfast and dinner
- Make allowances to support watch schedules such as extended supply and admin hours
- Sleep should occur at the same time each day; work with the body's natural 24-hour rhythm
- Putting the same watch team together in berthing can reduce noise and unnecessary sleep disruptions
- The first few days on a new schedule pose higher risk for night watchstanders
- Make sure the night watchstanders have the opportunity for prophylactic napping prior to standing watch
- Use PHEL curves to determine limitations for hot environments
- The 3/9 rotation is ideal to stay below PHEL curves
- Crisp turnover procedures are important for circadian-based watchbill success
- Consider using a short paper or laminated checklist to speed up and standardize the process
- If required, consider that pre-watch plant tours will lengthen turnover time
- Ensure your watch team has adequate time to bond - circadian watches enable long term alignment of watch team
The Crew Endurance Handbook is your guide to applying circadian-based watchbills
The handbook shares valuable lessons learned through scientific investigation. It also gives examples of past watchbills that have been used effectively.
The National Safety Council developed an easy-to-use online tool, where employers can receive an estimate of how much fatigue is costing their bottom line.
A consistently sleep deprived crew costs money from loss of productivity and increased healthcare costs.
Supporting a culture of good sleep is not just beneficial for individual health but also for the overall readiness of the Navy.
We implemented the 3/9 Circadian watch rotation on deployment and I saw an immediate uptick in watchstander alertness on the bridge. People were more focused, less fatigued, and the stable routine made them more effective.
We did this throughout all of my command tours. I liked it - I felt I had a more alert and ready watch team, and that their recovery periods were more productive.
I know that there's lots of medical side effects to just not having a good, regular sleep pattern. The crew loved it…I saw a great response.