Truckers Beware. You are not alone! In an article by Anahad O’connor of the NY Times more than a third of police officers have a sleep disorder ( most commonly OSA). Besides the usual OSA associated risks such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc., it was found that OSA in police officers also raised the odds of being injured on the job by 22 percent and falling asleep while driving by 51 percent. Reportedly, from 2009 to 2010, more than a third of officers who died in the line of duty were killed in motor vehicle crashes. It was found that the officers who had sleep disorders reported more “uncontrolled anger” toward suspects and citizens ( the recent protests against the use of excessive police force across the nation come to mind now ). The officers affected by OSA in the NY Times article were also reported to have an increased rate of absenteeism and serious administrative errors. To explain this biologically, this kind of behavior is said to be linked to the effect of sleep deprivation on the part of the brain’s subcortical region called the amygdala, which is involved in the processing of emotions.
Another recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, and reported by Nicholas Bakalar of the NY Times found that 37 percent of firefighters screened positive for at least one sleep disorder, most for OSA. Apparently more than 60 percent of deaths of firefighters are caused by heart attacks and traffic accidents, and these deaths are thought to be related to sleep disorders.