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Study: 40% Of Police Officers Are Sleep Deprived On The Job

In a landmark study, more than 40 percent of U.S. police officers screened positive for a sleep disorder, contributing to outcomes such as falling asleep while driving, uncontrolled anger towards suspects, and health problems.

| December 21, 2011 | Health

AsianScientist (Dec. 21, 2011) - In a landmark study, more than 40 percent of police officers screened positive for a sleep disorder, contributing to outcomes such as falling asleep while driving, uncontrolled anger towards suspects, and health problems.

Led by Associate Professor Shantha Rajaratnam of Australia's Monash University, research published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association details a two year follow-up study of nearly 5,000 police officers in the United States.

Sleep disorders including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), insomnia, and shift work disorder were detected, with most being undiagnosed and untreated at the time.

Obstructive sleep apnea was estimated to affect 33 percent of the police officers screened, while moderate to severe insomnia affected 6.5 percent of the officers, and 28.5 percent of police officers showed excessive sleepiness.

These sleep disorders may lead to increased sleepiness, heightening the risk of car crashes while on the job, Prof. Rajaratnam said.

“We found that excessive sleepiness was common in police officers and that almost half reported having fallen asleep while driving and about 25 percent reported that it occurred at least monthly,” said Prof. Rajaratnam.

“Positive screening for a sleep disorder increased the risk of falling asleep while driving after work, depression and burnout by more than two-fold,” she cautioned.

Dr. Laura Barger, Division of Sleep Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) said police officers identified as having a sleep disorder were more likely to have physical and mental health conditions.

“Those who screened positive for OSA were 1.5 to 2 times more likely to have cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” Dr. Barger said.

Follow up to the initial screening showed sleep disorders were also associated with impaired productivity, administrative errors and safety violations, and experiencing uncontrolled anger towards a suspect.

The authors say that further research is needed to determine if sleep disorder screening and treatment in occupational settings can lead to a reduction in the risks associated with these disorders.

The article can be found at: Rajaratnam SMW et al. (2011) Sleep Disorders, Health, and Safety in Police Officers.


Source: Monash University.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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