Safety violations more common among police officers with sleep disorders: study

January 11, 2012

Chicago – Sleep disorders among police officers may be linked to health problems and poor safety performance, according to research from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

In a study of more than 5,000 police officers, approximately 40 percent screened positive for sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia and shift work disorder, according to a press release from the Journal of the American Medical Association, in which the study appeared (Vol. 306, No. 23).

The most prevalent disorder was sleep apnea, detected in 33 percent of officers studied.

Researchers found that 28.5 percent reported signs of excessive sleepiness. For example, nearly 46 percent said they had nodded off while driving, in some cases one or two times a week.

In addition to falling asleep at the wheel or in meetings, police officers with sleep disorders were more likely than other officers to report committing safety violations due to fatigue, feeling uncontrolled anger toward a citizen or suspect, and absenteeism, JAMA said.