About half of protective service and military workers report not getting enough sleep, representing a higher rate of sleep deprivation than any other occupation. This statistic is especially concerning given the vital role this workforce plays in protecting public safety and health. It’s understandable that public safety workers would struggle to get enough sleep. Working 12-hour and rotational shifts that are combined with the unpredictability of being on call can disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Assignments can involve shift hold-overs, traumatic encounters, and high levels of stress.
Chronic stress can keep the nervous system in a heightened state of arousal, making it harder to fall asleep. Anxious thoughts can intrude in the middle of the night, resulting in a poor sleep experience. On top of these factors, many officers, firefighters and dispatchers work additional jobs to help meet financial obligations, limiting the number of hours they’re able to set aside for rest. What's the long-term effect and how can it be controlled?