August 18, 2017 – The US Fire Administration has released the results of a recent study by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The study examined sleep deprivation as it relates to shift work in the fire service. Previously, multiple studies across the United States and other developed countries have confirmed the association between poor sleep quality and first responders.
Shift schedules are known to interrupt circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are a biological clock instilled in every living thing. The rhythm can be interrupted by unusual sleep schedules, poor sleep habits, and chronic stress. These factors contribute to poor sleep quality.
Poor sleep quality is associated with numerous negative health effects. Short term, poor sleep quality has a negative effect on cognitive function and decision making. Long term, poor sleep quality is associated with the onset of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Results of the study are as follows:
- Seventy-three percent of firefighters report poor sleep quality.
- Although all shift work is associated with poor sleep quality, the 24/48 shift schedule is associated with the best sleep quality.
- The Kelly shift schedule is associated with the poorest sleep quality.
- Working second jobs during time off can contribute to poor sleep quality.
*Source: Billings, J., & Focht, W. (2016); https://www.usfa.fema.gov