Sleep disorders. It's a problem many have. New scientific evidence shows police officers are no exception. 40% of them suffer from at least one type of sleeping problem. Valley Regional Sleep Disorders Center’s Dr. Arnold Rugama says he's not surprised.
“It certainly is a very important problem. We're discovering more and more in many different groups of professionals,” said Dr. Rugama.
A new study shows many law enforcement officers suffer from insomnia or shift work disorder. But the most common sleep disorder officers have is obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Rugama explained, “Sleep apnea is often related to being overweight, so perhaps early on in the police officers’ years, they weren't suffering the sleep apnea, and they got through basic training. Then after time, like everybody else in everyone's profession, tends to drop off in exercise and watch what they're eating.”
Dr. Rugama has treated a number of police officers for sleep disorders. He added, “It doesn't help that they have a shift work problem as well and that will compound or add to the underlying sleep disorder, sleep apnea in this case. It's concerning because we don't want sleepy police officers on the road, especially when they're at risk for a lot of hazards, a lot of hazards on the road."
He says the best way to treat the problem is to eat healthy, exercise, and avoid drinking alcohol. Sleeping on the side or stomach also helps, and of course getting professional help is ideal.
Specialists say those who have sleep problems are more likely to be depressed and burned out. They are also more likely to make administrative errors, have uncontrolled anger toward others and fall asleep in meetings.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.