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Sleep Quality and Disorders in Police Officers

Dr. Nasreen Akhtar

Police officers are susceptible populations for poor sleep and the occurrence of sleep disorders. Long working hours, irregular shift work and exposure to traumatic events make them a group vulnerable to sleep restriction and sleep disorders. Short sleep duration in police officers has been shown to be associated with obesity, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. The association of poor sleep with poor mental health and depression is also proven. A strategic intervention to makeshift duties more aligned to circadian rhythm and promotion of sleep hygiene among police officers is required.


Policemen have long working hours, shift duties, exposure to stressful environments, long driving hours and frequent exposure to traumatic events. They often have to make quick decisions in complicated and ambiguous situations (Fekedulegn et al., 2016; Rajaratnam et al., 2011; Vila, 2006). This places them at risk for poor sleep quality, the occurrence of sleep disorders and excessive fatigue, increasing the probability of fatal and non-fatal accidents among officers themselves and the general public (Fekedulegn et al., 2016). Short sleep duration predisposes to chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease (Buxton & Marcelli, 2010). Some studies have systematically studied the effect of poor sleep quality in police officers. Figure 1 depicts the country-wise distribution of studies on sleep quality in police officers, a meta-analysis of which has been published recently (Garbarino, Guglielmi, Puntoni, Bragazzi, & Magnavita, 2019).


Bond, J., Sarkisian, K., Charles, L. E., Hartley, T. A., Andrew, M. E., Violanti, J. M., & Burchfiel, C. M. (2013). Association of Traumatic Police Event Exposure With Sleep Quality and Quantity in the BCOPS Study Cohort. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 15(4), 255–265.

Buxton, O. M., & Marcelli, E. (2010). Short and long sleep are positively associated with obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease among adults in the United States. Social Science & Medicine (1982), 71(5), 1027–1036.

Everding, B., Hallam, J. E., Kohut, M. L., Lee, D.-C., Anderson, A. A., & Franke, W. D. (2016). Association of Sleep Quality With Cardiovascular Disease Risk and Mental Health in Law Enforcement Officers. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 58(8), e281- 286.

Fekedulegn, D., Burchfiel, C. M., Charles, L. E., Hartley, T. A., Andrew, M. E., & Violanti, J. M. (2016). Shift Work and Sleep Quality Among Urban Police Officers. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine / American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 58(3), e66–e71.

Gangwisch, J. E., Malaspina, D., Boden-Albala, B., & Heymsfield, S. B. (2005). Inadequate sleep as a risk factor for obesity: Analyses of the NHANES I. Sleep, 28(10), 1289–1296.