A comprehensive sleep assessment of 45 firefighters was conducted over 9- days in an effort to determine the impact of their 24 hour work and 48 hour off work schedule on their sleep duration, sleep quality, processing speed, sustained attention, vigilance, and mental health. Chronic patterns of poor sleep are associated with an increased likelihood of performing poorly on tasks that require processing speed and sustained attention/vigilance which could lead to firefighters' suboptimal work performance or an increased risk of injury. Firefighters completed sleep actigraphy, self- report measures, as well as neuropsychological sub-tests at their beginning of their shift and immediately at the end of their work shift. As measured by actigraphy, firefighters in this sample slept an average of 5 hours and 20.99 minutes at work, which was significantly less than was found in a large sample of U.S. working adults. Firefighters endorsed poor sleep efficiency and poor sleep quality as assessed by self-report and objective actigraphy. One limitation is that only 12 of the 45 firefighters endorsed responding to a nighttime call during the work night that occurred between the two neuropsychological assessments. Comparing changes in neuropsychological performance between firefighters who had disrupted sleep compared to firefighters who did not, significant performances decrements were evident only for the psychomotor vigilance test (PVT) reaction time. If confirmed with a larger sample, the results suggest that reaction time may be a sensitive indicator of decreasing cognitive performance because of sleep loss. Limitations, future study directions, and recommendations are discussed.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Stout, Jeremy, "Sleep Disturbances Among Firefighters: The Impact Of Shift Work On Sleep And Cognition" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6044.