Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sleep Disorders Common Among Police Officers

Below, I have summarized a study from the December issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), arguably the most respected medical journal in the world. At the very bottom is a pdf of the entire JAMA article.

In the study below which you can read more about (wish you would) if my summary is not enough to satiate your curiosity, this group decided to look a large sample of police officers as important guardians of the law that supports our society, and see if they have sleep disorders and if so, is their ability to serve that roll compromised? For me, the answer of affects on their health is already glaringly office based on general population effects well established, of which I refer to in other teaching blogs and will bore your ear off in my office as much as you want.

So they looked at large number (almost 5,000 (4,957 to be exact)) of police officers between the summer of 2005 and winter of 2007, screening them by online surveys or on-job-site surveys for sleep disorders of all types.

Almost HALF (40%) screened positive for at least one sleep disorder which suggests almost half of ALL police officers have something compromising their quality of sleep.

If you break that number down, 33.6% had obstructive sleep apnea, 6.5% moderate to severe insomnia, and 5.4% had shift work disorder.

In other words, 1/3rd of ALL police officers have obstructive sleep apnea according this screening evaluation.

Of these police officers with a sleep disorder, they were more than two times MORE likely to be depressed. They also were significantly more likely to have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dose themselves with high caffeine intake.

Of ALL cops, 28.5% complained of being excessively sleepy, and an astounding 26% reported falling asleep while driving at least once or twice a month!

In the administrative work done by police officers (paperwork is a universal burden it seems- waste of their time if you ask me but I digress), they were also much more likely to make a "serious" administrative error if they had a sleep disorder.

If they had a sleep disorder, they were also significantly more likely to have "uncontrolled" anger toward suspects, absenteeism from work responsibilities, fall asleep during meetings.

I have a growing number of police officers in my sleep practice, with very legitimate sleep concerns, and I hope this becomes an eyeopener to police departments on behalf of their officers.

If you want to read the actual JAMA article in detail, click on this link (for the whole thing):