A George Mason University study found that firefighters with poor sleep measures had worse cognitive performance and overall health. The study also found that chronic poor sleep is likely to negatively affect physical performance at work.
To avoid a sleep-related decline in work performance, the researchers recommended that fire departments consider the impact of work schedules on sleep.
“Because of the way fire crews tend to operate, with long hours where sleep is interrupted, firefighters aren’t getting the kind of sleep they need, and this could affect their health in many ways. “said the lead author. Joel Martin. “The lesson here is that fire departments should take steps to improve sleep hygiene for firefighters.”
The study further suggests that sleep education interventions and the use of wearable devices to monitor sleep patterns could benefit fire departments seeking to ensure optimal physical performance and cognitive functioning of their firefighters. employees.
“We recommend that fire stations offer firefighters the opportunity to take naps during their shift, as shifts can last 48 hours or more,” said Martin, who is an associate professor at College of Education and Human Development and academic program coordinator for School of Kinesiology. “Ideally, the sleeping environment should be dark, quiet, and in a climate-controlled room.”
The search focused on data found in 15 articles on sleep and firefighters, yielding a total sample of 1,591 firefighters. Scholar Christopher Frost, a graduate of Mason with a master’s degree in exercise, fitness and health promotion last spring, said he learned a lot about the importance of sleep by helping to write the article.
“Before I started the research, I really didn’t understand how many problems can be caused by insufficient restful sleep,” said Frost, who is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in fine arts at Mason’s. “When you work shifts, with emergency calls, your sleep schedule is interrupted and that can have some pretty serious consequences.”
According to the study, poor sleep hygiene is associated with a number of health consequences, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, decreased response time, and impaired balance, to name a few. only a few.
Mason’s doctoral student, Michael Toczko, said the researchers hoped to further study firefighters’ sleep patterns by taking a “more holistic” look.
“This study looked at sleep exams of firefighters for a short period of time,” said Toczko, who is working on a doctorate in education with a concentration in kinesiology. “We’d like to get an overview of sleep patterns and firefighters by looking at what sleep looks like over a month or two months. This is the next step in understanding what firefighters experience when it comes to sleep.
The paper, which was published in the December 2021 issue of Sleep Epidemiology, was nominated for Paper of the Year 2021 in the Occupational and Public Health Specialties Section of the Society of Toxicology. .