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Night patrol for tired cops: police lose sleep over workday hassles. (This Week).

You need to be well-rested and alert to catch criminals and uphold the law. However, many of the public servants charged with these duties suffer from insomnia insomnia, abnormal wakefulness or inability to sleep. The condition may result from illness or physical discomfort, or it may be caused by stimulants such as coffee or drugs. However, frequently some psychological factor, such as worry or tension, is the cause.  and other serious sleep problems, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 a new study.

Among big-city police officers, about half go without a good night's sleep because of myriad everyday pressures at work, say psychiatrist Thomas C. Neylan of the VA Medical Center in San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden  and his colleagues. Job strains for the men and women in blue include frequently conflicting demands by police supervisors, judges, attorneys, reporters, and the general public.

In contrast, life-threatening and violent encounters in the line of duty In the Line of Duty may refer to:
  • In the Line of Duty (film)
  • In the Line of Duty (Stargate SG-1)
 exert little influence on the overall amount and quality of sleep experienced by police officers, Neylan's team reports in the March/April Psychosomatic Medicine psychosomatic medicine (sī'kōsōmăt`ĭk), study and treatment of those emotional disturbances that are manifested as physical disorders. . Still, nightmares occur more often among those who have faced on-the-job traumas, such as getting injured in·jure  
tr.v. in·jured, in·jur·ing, in·jures
1. To cause physical harm to; hurt.

2. To cause damage to; impair.

 and witnessing deaths.

"It's the hassles of police officers' everyday work environment that are related to their high rates of disturbed deep," Neylan says.

There's plenty of reason to be concerned about a potentially large contingent of sleep-deprived police officers, he adds. Other research has linked stress-related sleep problems to weakened resistance to disease and declines in concentration and motor skills.

Neylan and his coworkers recruited 733 male and female officers from police departments in New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City

City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S.
 and Oakland and San Jose San Jose, city, United States
San Jose (sănəzā`, săn hōzā`), city (1990 pop. 782,248), seat of Santa Clara co., W central Calif.; founded 1777, inc. 1850.
, Calif. The study also included 330 men and women from the same cities whose jobs didn't include police, emergency, or security work. Most volunteers in both groups were 30 to 40 years old and married. About three-quarters of the police officers and one-quarter of the others regularly shifted between day and night work schedules.

Study participants completed questionnaires on the quality of their sleep in the past month and the stress they faced at work. They also described any psychiatric symptoms they had experienced and traumatic events A traumatic event is an event that is or may be a cause of trauma. The term may refer to one of the followiong:
  • Traumatic event (physical), an event associated with a physical trauma
  • Traumatic event (psychological), an event associated with a psychological trauma
 they had encountered on and off the job.

Compared with the other group, police officers reported much worse sleep quality and an average of about 30 fewer minutes of sleep per night. Nearly half the police officers reported symptoms of insomnia or other sleep problems. These findings held regardless of whether police officers worked variable schedules or strictly day shifts, Neylan says.

In the comparison group, severe sleep disturbances affected about one-third of people who worked variable schedules and one-fourth of those who worked days.

Police officers with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mental disorder that follows an occurrence of extreme psychological stress, such as that encountered in war or resulting from violence, childhood abuse, sexual abuse, or serious accident.  or other psychiatric ailments cited more than their share of sleep disturbances, Neylan notes. After the researchers accounted for this factor, however, the high levels of routine daily stress at work reported by police officers still showed a strong link to disturbed sleep.

Fatigue among police officers has received increasing attention in the past few years among law-enforcement administrators. The new findings emphasize that sleep represents a critical health issue for police departments, especially given the added stresses that have emerged since last year's terrorist attacks, remarks psychiatrist Charles F. Reynolds III of the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh.

"Sleep disturbances may provide a link between chronic job stress and increased rates of suicide, depression, and other psychiatric disorders among police officers," Reynolds says.
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Author:Bower, B.
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 6, 2002
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