Study: Cops battle sleep disordered breathing

Sunday, June 17, 2007

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Police officers and other shift workers who experience chronic sleep loss due to their schedules show a high degree of sleep disordered breathing, according to a research abstract presented at SLEEP 2007, the 21st annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).

The study, authored by Shantha Rajaratnam, PhD, of Harvard Medical School, was based on the responses of 4,471 police officers to a self-report survey that included screening for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA); OSA and insomnia; restless legs syndrome (RLS); shift work sleep disorder; and narcolepsy with cataplexy.

The percentage of respondents who screened positive for any sleep disorder was 38.4%, including 35.1% for OSA, 6.8% for insomnia, 0.7% for RLS, 2% for shift work sleep disorder and 0.5% for narcolepsy. These individuals were referred to a sleep clinic for a formal evaluation.

"Based on these data, sleep disorders appear to be highly prevalent in the present sample of police officers," said Rajaratnam. "Sleep disorder screening and treatment programs may potentially improve police officer health, safety and productivity."

The amount of sleep a person gets affects his or her physical health, emotional well-being, mental abilities, productivity and performance. Recent studies associate lack of sleep with serious health problems like increased risk of depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Experts recommend that adults get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night to maintain good health and optimum performance.

The annual SLEEP meeting brings together an international body of 5,000 leading researchers and clinicians in the field of sleep medicine to present and discuss new findings and medical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders.