Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sleep Apnae Common in Police Officers

A recent study has showed that one third of police officers have a sleeping disorder.  For those who do are more likely to experience heart disease, problems in job performance and rage towards suspects or citizens.  This study had about 5,000 state and local police officers in United States and Canada, most from Massachusetts and Philadelphia, elected to take part in the study.  Of the 5,000 participant the study showed that about 40 percent of them were found to have a sleeping disorder.  This study is showing that sleeping disorder among officers is almost double the rate of the general population.  

 The most common disorder identified in this study was obstructive sleep apnea which can cause dangerous pauses in breathing while sleeping.  Sleep apnea can cause hypertension, heart disease and be a high rick of accidents on the road.  A third of the officers who were participants screened positive for the condition and most of them that did had no idea they had this problem. According to Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, “On almost every aspect of health and job performance that was measured, the officers who had sleep problems fared far worse than their peers. After adjustments were made for age, sex and other variables, having a sleep disorder raised the odds of heart disease by 45 percent, for example, and the odds of depression by 120 percent. It also raised the odds of being injured on the job by 22 percent and falling asleep while driving by 51 percent.”  The drowsiest officers in the new study were not just a danger to themselves but also had “uncontrolled anger” towards suspects and citizens.  Sleep deprivation may affect the amygdala, a part of the brain where your emotions are from.  When talking to a suspect who might say something nasty to you or insult you might tip you over the edge causing your to be unable to control your emotional response.   

Hidden findings were that the Massachusetts state police were far less likely than officers in Philadelphia and other area to have sleep apnea which was because of their better overall fitness.  Study said that they had lower rates of obesity than other police officers and smaller body mass indexes.  State police officers in Massachusetts are required to pass regular fitness tests in order to keep their jobs, and they are given one hour of paid exercise time four days a week to help them stay fit.  I think that every police department needs to place this into their department requirements; if you look around at most police departments you will see many officers who have obesity. This is a major problem not just because of the sleeping disorder aspect but because how would they ever be able to jump out of the squad car fast enough to chase down a fleeing suspect, it just wouldn’t be possible.  The article said the three most important risk factors for sleep apnea are, “obesity, obesity and obesity.”  From the data they collected suggested that a fitness program would pay for itself over and over again.  I think that this article proved that a fitness program needs to be put in their requirements in order to keep their jobs, this way the officers would be healthy overall and have a far less risk of having sleep apnea which would lower the risks of having uncontrollable emotions.

                                       Works Cited

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