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Sleep Disorders, Work Shifts and Officer Wellness

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 270 Dated: June 2012 Pages: 36-39
Date Published
June 2012
4 pages
Publication Series
Two recent studies examined the impact of sleep and work schedules on the health and safety of law enforcement officers.
The first study examined sleep disorders among law enforcement officers, and the second study determined the impact of shift length on officer wellness. The findings show that sleep disorders, which are typically associated with poor health, performance, and safety, are twice as prevalent among law enforcement officers than the general public. In addition, sleep disorders among officers are largely undiagnosed and untreated. Researchers also found that officers with sleep disorders were more likely than their peers without sleep disorders to make serious administrative errors or safety violations, fall asleep while driving, and manifest "uncontrolled anger" toward suspects. The study that examined the role that shift length plays in sleep deprivation considered the effects of traditional 8-hour shifts, 10-hour shifts, and 12-hour shifts. Officers working 10-hour shifts got significantly more sleep per night than those working 8-hour shifts. Compared to officers who worked an 8-hour shift, those working a 10-hour shift got more sleep, reported a significantly higher quality of work life, and worked less overtime. Officer working 12-hour shifts reported greater levels of sleepiness and lower levels of alertness at work than those working 8-hour shifts; however, no significant differences were found between shift length and work performance, health, or work-family conflict. Researchers in both studies recommend additional research in order to determine whether sleep disorder prevention, screening, and treatment programs will increase officer safety and performance. One study examined sleep disorders and how they affected the health and safety of 4,957 State and local law enforcement officers in the United States and Canada. The second study conducted a randomized controlled experiment that examined how shift work affects officer performance, safety, health, quality of life, fatigue, and extra-duty employment. 5 notes

Date Published: June 1, 2012