The Effects Of Sleep Deprivation And Sleep Disorders In Law Enforcement

Written by Manny Erlich on April 30, 2013. Posted in Health Effects of Snoring, Sleep Disorder News & Research, Snoring 101

Even if you sleep fine at night, the effects of sleep deprivation and other sleep disorders may be more personal than you think. You might not feel tired, but the people protecting your community often do.

A two-year screening process monitored by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital of 4,957 law enforcement officers for sleep disorders showed a significant percentage of the study group struggling with sleep disorders, weight issues and sleep deprivation. The two-year study results were:

  • 40.0% of the police officers suffered from one or more sleep disorders,
  • 33.0% suffered from obstructive sleep apnea
  • 6.5% of the police officers experienced moderate to severe sleep deprivation and insomnia.

Four out of five police officers were defined as overweight or obese, evidencing a link between obstructive sleep apnea and obesity. Police officers suffering from obstructive sleep apnea were apt to have other health issues such as:

  • 148% were more prone to suffer from depression,
  • 61% were more prone to suffer from diabetes
  • 22% were more prone to experience an on the job injury.

The Physical Effects of Sleep Deprivation for Police Officers

These findings support a prior study conducted by Harvard Medical School, which concluded that sleep deprivation and other sleep disorders are associated with shift work. Shift workers generally sleep two hours less than other types of workers; therefore, they are more susceptical to having cardiovascular disease, weight issues, diabetes and experience depression.

Any profession requiring a frequent change in work schedule (from day to night or vice-versa) makes it difficult for the person to develop a normal sleep routine.

The two-year study showed that police offers experiencing the effects of sleep deprivation or other sleep disorders had lower performance ratings than police officers having no sleeping problems.

The police officers experiencing a level of sleep deprivation were more prone to (i) commit administrative errors, (ii) fall asleep while driving on their shifts, (iii) make errors due to fatigue and (iv) demonstrate a lack of restraint and an uncontrolled temper.

Massachusetts Police Officers Have Fewer Sleep Disorders

Interestingly, the study did show that members of the Massachusetts State Police had much lower risks and rates of most sleep disorders than officers in other states. MA officers also had a much lower rate of obesity and weight problems than other states. Further analysis discovered the Massachusetts State Police encouraged their officers to exercise and maintain a level of physical fitness by providing workout facilities and paid work time (within the shift) for exercising.

The Massachusetts State Police agency proves that investing in employee health creates healthier police officers and reduces the risk of work related accidents or mistakes. The effects of sleep deprivation and sleep disorders are important to keep in mind for anyone who is entrusted with providing us with protection and safety.

Learn more about the effects of sleep deprivation and sleep disorders in our Snoring articles section!

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Manny Erlich

International Foundation of Employee Benefits - Certified Employee Benefits Specialist