Friday, January 23, 2009
Mental alertness--key for performance and safety; omega-3's, key for mental alertness
Little did Captain Sullenberger anticipate last Thursday, as he ordered breakfast at his New York hotel, that within hours he would be called on to have split second reaction time, absolute mental clarity, complete decisiveness in his thinking, recall of every training session he'd ever completed, and utter confidence that he could manage the most challenging situation his life had ever laid before him.
By now we all know the story well. This man is now the pilot many Americans want to fly whatever plane they may be boarding for whatever business or vacation plans they may have.
If you're NOT a pilot and you stumbled on this blog, take heart, what Sully and his crew did, is what any crew in the same situation would be doing to maximize your personal safety. I don't say that to minimize the bravery displayed last week, but rather to recognize that it takes a certain bravery of character to even BE a pilot. We as passengers are just incredibly fortunate that it is not often we have to be reminded of that.
I'm grateful for the bravery and training of every single pilot who has ever safely delivered me to my destination.
Nothing is more important than experience and training in flight emergencies. However, I couldn't help but think about how many qualities of omega-3's pertain to a pilot's job duties. Research has shown that these essential fats, to name just a few:
--help the brain filter out unnecessary information and focus on important information
--help the brain retrieve information from its memory
--help with reaction time
--help improve sleep architecture so that daily functioning is more productive
--help the brain respond to anxiety producing situations in a way that promotes focus on problem solving rather than being paralyzed out of action
--controls rises in blood pressure to keep things going
They're truly key in making sure an emergency gets the correct sequence of responses.
If you're not eating a lot of fish, consider starting. If you don't like fish, consider fish oil capsules.
There will be a lot more on this topic to come. For now, just consider that even if you're not called upon to land a huge aircraft in a ridiculously challenging situation...the right kind of fats can put you in the best possible position to orchestrate all those every day challenges (near misses, wind shear, etc.), that most passengers never even realize you've protected them from.