Sleeping disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, shift-work disorders, as well as restless leg syndromes are becoming increasingly common amongst firefighters. New research shows that firefighters with prevailing sleep disorders are likely to be prone to other more chronic health symptoms and conditions, conditions like diabetes and heart disease. This research also showed that most fire fighters aren’t being diagnosed with this condition, let alone receiving treatment for it.
Laura Barger, who’s an associate physiologist at Brigham and Women’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, states that her research findings revealed the impact of sleep related disorders on the health and safety of firefighters. She connected them to two leading deaths among firefighters; the first is car accidents and the second are heart attacks.
More than 80% of the firefighters included in the research where screened positive for sleep disorders, and the worst part is that they were all undiagnosed and as a result, untreated. This research examined about 7,000 firefighters from 66 fire departments across the United States. All of them were evaluated and tested for any of the aforementioned sleep disorders as well as other health issues. All 7,000 firefighters were asked question like, have they ever experienced falling asleep while driving.
Of all the firefighters, those that were diagnosed positive for a severe disorder was 37%. These firefighters ran a high risk of being involved in a car accident, and in many cases, the findings revealed that they had already fallen asleep while driving a couple of times before.
The participants that had a sleep disorder also showed symptoms of other health issues like depression, diabetes, heart diseases, and even anxiety. Although, the research did show a connection between the sleep disorders, the nature of a firefighters job, and these health conditions, it does not show neither proves that all these aspects have a cause or effect relationship.
Due to inconclusive findings, the research was further categorized to consider aspects like sex, body mass index, smoking, race, and other factors. The researchers discovered that relative to sound sleepers, those that have a sleeping disorder are twice as likely to nod off while driving, get into vehicular accidents, or have diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
The researchers acknowledged that some of the data was dependent upon self-reports, which aren’t always reliable. Miss Barger still said that sleep disorders screening is important. These people need to be evaluated and must treat.
Dr. Charles Czeisler, who’s the chief of Brigham and Women’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, explained that sleep disorder screening programs at their occupation could identify individuals that are deprived of sleep, and like to be vulnerable to serious health consequences and adverse safety in an already dangerous environment.
This study provides proper reasons, and the findings so far only demand further research. In doing so they will assess the effectiveness of the management program of occupational, sleep disorders on risk of developing diseases, both physical and mental.