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.


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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