A report from PoliceOne.com examines the impact of sleep deprivation on behavior, social skills, and health in police officers.
In 1991, The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research listened to testimony from officers who described terrible work schedules, high stress, and overwhelming fatigue as hallmarks of their work environment. The testimony was powerful, but the lack of scientific data to support the officers’ statements meant the Commission was unable to determine the extent of police fatigue.
Scientific data on sleep deprivation within law enforcement has since been collected and evaluated, and the results were dire. A solution still hasn’t been perfected, so the conversation needs to continue
POLICE AND OVERTIME
Many officers are quick to say yes to double shifts, triple shifts, and second jobs in order to earn extra cash.
The book Principles and Practices of Sleep Medicine addresses officers who have reported working as many as 3,000 hours per year in overtime. These may be outlier cases, but LEOs frequently report working more than 1,000 hours in overtime each year. (For reference, a 40-hour per week job with a four-week vacation totals 1,920 work hours per year.)
Excessive work and poor sleep habits make officers sleep-deprived. The National Sleep Foundation suggests 7 to 9 hours of sleep, but more than half (53 percent) of officers report a nightly average of 6.5 hours of sleep or less.