Night Beat, Overtime and a Disrupted Sleep Pattern Can Harm Officers' Health

Nov. 17, 2009 —

Science Daily/University at Buffalo

A police officer who works the night shift, typically from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., already is at a disadvantage when it comes to getting a good "night's" sleep.


A new study published in the current issue of Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health (vol. 64, No. 3) shows that this combination of night work, overtime and shortened sleep can contribute to the development among police officers of the metabolic syndrome, a combination of unhealthful factors that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), primarily heart disease and stroke.


Results showed that overall, 30 percent of officers working the night shift had metabolic syndrome, compared to 21 percent in the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES III), which is based on data collected from the overall general population.


The percentages of several factors related to risk of metabolic syndrome were higher in night-shift officers than in the general population, as well as in day and evening-shift officers in the study:


55 percent had elevated waist circumference, compared to 50 percent and 30 percent for women and men


50 percent had low HDL cholesterol levels, compared to 38 percent and 35 percent in women and men, respectively.


Hypertension and glucose intolerance, an indication of diabetes, were more prevalent in night-shift officers.


In addition, officers who worked midnight shifts and had less than six hours sleep had a significantly higher average of metabolic-syndrome components than those who worked day shifts.

"Information from this study could help guide further investigation into health of first responders," Violanti said, "not only of police officers, but firefighters, emergency medical technicians, nurses, physicians, air traffic controllers and the military.

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