40% of police officers have a sleep disorder according to a JAMA study

More than a third of police officers have a sleep disorder, and those who do are more likely to experience heart disease, problems with job performance and rage toward suspects and citizens, says the NYTimes, citing a study in the JAMA. That figure is at least double the estimated 15-20% rate of sleep disorders seen in the general population.

Having a sleep disorder raised the odds of heart disease by 45%, and the odds of depression by 120%. It also raised the odds of being injured on the job by 22% and falling asleep while driving by 51%.


The JAMA report video.

The officers who had sleep disorders reported more instances of “uncontrolled anger” toward suspects and citizens and serious administrative errors. Sleep deprivation may affect the amygdala, a part of the brain where emotion is governed.

Of the 5,000 study participants, 40% screened positive for at least 1 sleep disorder, most of whom had not been diagnosed previously:

- 34% screened positive for obstructive sleep apnea
- 6.5% for moderate to severe insomnia
- 5.4% for shift work disorder

Not surprisingly, the police officer who had smaller body mass indexes were far less likely to have sleep apnea. System-wide practices can have a significant impact. For example, state police officers in Massachusetts are given one hour of paid exercise time four days a week to help them stay fit. They were less liekly to have sleep apnea.

References:

Sleep Problems in Police Officers Take Heavy Toll. NYTimes.
Sleep Disorders, Health, and Safety in Police Officers. JAMA.

Comments from Twitter:

WendySueSwanson MD (@SeattleMamaDoc): Geesh.

@CrumbedOxygen: wonder if EMS similar.

Dr John Weiner @AllergyNet:  Can CPAP Cure Cops?

Martin Wilson @ChInspMWilson: what is CPAP then ...??

@DrVes CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a treatment option for sleep apnea. Here is more info from the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cpap/MM00716

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