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"In general we have this cultural attitude of, sleep is for the weak,"
December 22, 2011 12:33 AM   Subscribe

"...nearly half of police officers from the U.S. and Canada suffer from sleep disorders..."
posted by seriousmoonlight (27 comments total)

 
Insomnia and apnea... Is this because of their consciences and being overweight, respectively?

(I know, I know, but it was too easy)
posted by hellslinger at 12:59 AM on December 22, 2011


Guess that answers the question I've often had: "How do you sleep at night??"
posted by LordSludge at 12:59 AM on December 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


I've heard medical marijuana can clear that up.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:17 AM on December 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Rookie cops generally get the crappy shifts (i.e., graveyard).

So another way to think about it is sleep-deprived/night owl folks self-select careers in law enforcement.
posted by bardic at 1:18 AM on December 22, 2011


Or just post on Metafilter.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:21 AM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Who's my sleepy little policeman? Who's my sleepy little policeman? You are! Yes, you are! You're my sleepy little policeman! You're so sleepy! Blub blub blub! *wobbles police belly*
posted by tumid dahlia at 1:24 AM on December 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


I remember reading that the Met Police (UK, London) work some crazy rotating shift pattern (going from a days to nights to earlies to lates in a semi-random way - only a few days on each shift) that makes sleep deprivation almost inevitable.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:39 AM on December 22, 2011


Is this because of their consciences and being overweight?

Who else read it as "Is this because of their consciences being overweight?"
And was that intentionalty written like that?

FWIW, my first reaction was, isn't nearly half of population suffering of sleep disorders? (apparently not)
posted by hat_eater at 2:36 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was referring to the apnea being related to obesity.

Either way...
posted by hellslinger at 3:28 AM on December 22, 2011


Effects of sleep deprivation
posted by pracowity at 3:31 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


and now I'm reminded for no really good reason that when my family lived in Puerto Rico in the early 1970s, the slang term for speedbumps was "sleeping policeman".
posted by mephron at 3:31 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ok, so protesters should start singing lullabies to the cops instead of shouting?
posted by orme at 4:44 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not just rookie cops who end up with wacky shifts - sometimes even the cops who've been at it for a while end up having to work weird hours, often unexpectedly. So, yeah, lots of weird shift work is bad for pretty much anyone. I think the medical establishment is finally starting to realize that maybe a 'work 90 hours at a stretch' schedule for the rookie doctors might not be the safest thing for the patients.

Similarly, I wonder about the weird 6-on-6-off shift that the guys running nuclear submarines have - are the makings of armageddon under the control of twitched out sleep-dep victims?
posted by rmd1023 at 6:02 AM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


My buddy is a cop and he can't sleep for shit. He's not overweight (nor is anyone on the police force he works with that I have met) and, like most cops, he is good intentioned in his job and, like most people, he goes about his job in the right way and does not have things weighing on his conscious that are a result of him treating people unfairly. He does have things weighing on his conscious, but because he feels he didn't do enough to protect people in certain situations, situations where to act differently would have been technically against the law. It's a fine line cops have to walk and in a lot of cases the law requires cops to give people who they feel deep down do not have good intentions the benefit of the doubt, or the benefit of the law I guess. Cops get a bad rap because each department big and small has a few bad seeds and they get all the attention. The only time a good cop gets any attention is when they aggressively break the law (violating civil rights, various different schemes cops get into that we have all seen in the movies) or when they make an honest mistake while trying to do the right, legal thing. All that being said, he mainly can't sleep because of changing shift work and working other jobs as security in order to supplement his income. He just has not in his 15 years on the job been able to get into any kind of pattern whatsoever.
posted by holdkris99 at 6:03 AM on December 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


I remember reading that the Met Police (UK, London) work some crazy rotating shift pattern (going from a days to nights to earlies to lates in a semi-random way - only a few days on each shift) that makes sleep deprivation almost inevitable.
Forces (and other public sector employers) are now starting to have even more freaky-ass shift patterns to try to stave off the inevitable barrage of claims as more and more reports come out saying working all through the night fucks you up.

• 15.00 - 03.00
• 15.00-23.00 and 23.00 - 07.00 (with 07.00 - 03.00 covered by non-shift workers)
• 9.5 hour shifts
• Mandatory 3 hours break in the middle of the night.


I work a 12 hour continental (2 days 2 nights 4 off) which health-wise seems considered to be akin to smoking and drinking for a living.
posted by fullerine at 6:04 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a thought experiment, replace cop or police with some crappy, low wage job (you know, like so many of us have). Dare I say, most people only get negative attention and little if any praise at their job. Lots of people also work nights. When I worked in a auto factory that had three shifts, my brain very quickly started shutting down; the thought that I could have been a police officer going through the same thing is actually kind of scary.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:35 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


My oldest boy is a corrections officer and has occasionally had to do what they call a 3-2-1: a third shift of 11PM-7AM, eight hours off, a second shift of 3-11PM, eight hours off, and then a first shift of 7AM-3PM. I worry about it.
posted by maurice at 6:46 AM on December 22, 2011


In law school, I worked in a clinic representing people in criminal cases, which, unsurprisingly, involved a lot of time talking to cops. One day, my clinic partner and I had to go talk to this older officer, which involved meeting him at roll call at the K-9 headquarters at 6 AM. Unlike most of the police officers, he was really excited to talk to us, only about everything but the case we were working on. So we spent like an hour and a half watching the sun come up in the freezing cold while he regaled us with stories of his time on the force.

One of the things he said during this long talk that stuck with me was a line about how the police department had given him the three gifts it gives every officer "high blood pressure, diabetes, and a divorce." I don't, as a rule, like police officers, but it's a job that puts the people who do it under intense and somewhat unexpected pressures; finding ways to change the scheduling for officers on night shifts would do something to relieve those pressures.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:02 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


something something med school/interns something zzzzzzzz…….
posted by wenestvedt at 7:29 AM on December 22, 2011


"Sleep disorder". Weird, 'round these parts we call that a conscience.
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:30 AM on December 22, 2011


I worked shift work in a paper mill for many years and because of my low seniority, I never got to a point where I had a regular shift rotation. It wasn't a good way to live. At one point, I was suffering from severe insomnia and decided to see the staff nurse about it. I explained the problem and she actually replied with these exact words - "Have you thought about praying?"
posted by davebush at 7:32 AM on December 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Sleep disorders are part of all mental illnesses. If we want rational people carrying guns, we should find a way to schedule reasonable shifts...though I agree night work is always stressful because of biological clocks. Maybe neighborhood watch could handle the day hours...old people need something to do anyway.
posted by Bitter soylent at 7:33 AM on December 22, 2011


If you want to make a dog more vicious, mistreat it. Also, sleep deprivation is good for cult indoctrination.

Fortunately, none of that goes on in law enforcement.
posted by Appropriate Username at 7:38 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you want to make a dog more vicious, mistreat it. Also, sleep deprivation is good for cult indoctrination.

Maybe it's a job that has a high amount of stress, crazy shifts, and oscillations between incredible boredom and life-and-death situations. The military and medical professions create similar conditions that also result in sleep problems. No need to read something sinister into because you spotted the word "police" in the title. Or does that warp everything around it, even a medical problem?

Anyway, from what I know about the military, there are certainly better ways to create a work environment, but you'll have a lot of resistance to change, even for the better. Here's hoping that some departments start taking this seriously.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:03 AM on December 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Set aside the psychology and consider the anatomy. The article talks a lot about sleep apnea. That makes a ton of sense.

We're looking at a group of mostly men, a great many of whom are larger than average. The size issue is not necessarily about fat, either; just being big and/or having a thick neck is a major risk factor. Hypertension is another a risk factor for the condition. Male, hypertensive, thick neck...the list for sleep apnea risk factors overlaps heavily with a description of a hell of a lot of cops. (And me. Thanks, genetics!) Of course you're going to see a lot of apnea in that population.

A nasty part of sleep apnea is that even if you get eight hours of sleep, it's shitty sleep, so it feels like you got maybe three. It's like there's a gremlin who pokes you with a pool cue every ten minutes all night. Plus, of course, oftentimes those with the condition snore like a fucking walrus, which can affect other people's sleep. The means of controlling apnea aren't the best, either. The most common treatment is a mechanical dingus called a CPAP that blows pressurized air in your nose all night to keep your airway open, and that's just as much fun as it sounds. Surgical treatment is seldom effective and very often leads to painful recovery.

Sleep medicine is very new and not widely known. Shit, how many folks out there know what sleep apnea is and that it can be treated? The worst part about it is that...well, you know how medical interns are perpetually exhausted by their work schedule? Imagine that level of exhaustion every day, until you die. YAY!

When I'm having problems using the CPAP (usually due to allergies clogging my nose, defeating the device), I get the sleep deprivation symptoms back hard: muzzy thinking, exhaustion, depression. Put me in a uniform, have me ride the streets, and give me a gun when I'm in that state? Are you insane?
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 10:35 AM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


When Meserhle murdered Oscar Grant in Oakland, his attorney used lack of sleep as part of his defense for "accidentally" mistaking his gun for his taser.
posted by bradbane at 11:27 AM on December 22, 2011


I suffer from a sleep disorder due to UK police shift patterns. My upstairs neighbour is police and her coming and going wakes me up even though she is quiet as a mouse. So for a couple of days a week I wake up at 4:30 am or so. This totally sucks for me so I can't image what is like to have to live it instead of just getting up, relieving myself and then going back to bed.
posted by srboisvert at 2:04 PM on December 22, 2011


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