Sleep Disorders

sec_arr Appendix F

Sleep Hygiene and Shift Work | Suggested Checklist

The following are a few suggestions that the police physician can share with the agency and with individual LEOs to decrease officers sleep deprivation and to improve their sleep quality and quantity.

For the Agency:

  • 10 hour shifts are probably better than 12 hour shifts – and possibly better than 8 hour shifts 35;
  • No shift duration [total on-duty time] of more than 12 hours;
  • Consider clockwise shift rotation;
  • Consider allowing nap breaks (15 to 45 minutes) during work time;
  • Consider physical exercise during work time;
  • Provide open door, non-punitive (anonymous) sleep disorder and sleepiness screening;
  • Make sleep hygiene advice by police physician available to LEOs;
  • Schedule overtime, court appearances, outside employment in a way to allow officers to get enough sleep
  • Limit work time to 12 hours in a row with 8 hours of sleep (or 12 hours of rest every 24 hours) before and between shifts;
  • Limit weekly overtime;
  • Encourage 2-hour naps in the evening for the LEO starting a series of night shifts;
  • Avoid early start for morning shift (i.e., not earlier that 7:00am);
  • Night shift should be short term (no more than 3 shifts in a row) or long term (at least 4 weeks);
  • Mandatory rest before work (i.e., no second job immediately before working as a police officer);
  • Educate officers and supervisors;
  • Lighted work areas at night;
  • Offer training and mandatory meetings during all shifts.

For the LEO:

  • Sleep 8 hours before working (and never less than 6 hours);
  • Limit awake time before starting shift (probably 4 hours or less);
  • No work at second job immediately starting a shift as an LEO;
  • No caffeine 5 hours before going to bed;
  • Take caffeine in first half of shift (200 mg of caffeine is needed to improve alertness in most people);
  • Receive counseling on the use of hypnotic and stimulant drugs;
  • Get protected uninterrupted sleep in a dark, quiet, cool room at home;
  • Anchor sleep when changing shift;
  • Get enough sleep (8 hours recommended) every night;
  • Limit daily caffeine intake;
  • Consider bright light therapy to help with rotating shifts;
  • Consider melatonin to help with rotating shifts.
  • Limit exposure to television/computer/phone screens before sleep time.