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No Rest for the Weary

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2008
2 pages
This paper presents research findings on police officer sleep deprivation and its consequences conducted by Bryan Vila, a pioneer in research into how fatigue affects police officers, and describes Vila's proposed research in this field.

Vila's research to date has found that 53 percent of law enforcement officers average less than 6.5 hours of sleep daily, which experts consider the minimum amount of sleep needed to avoid sleep deprivation. More than 90 percent of officers report being routinely fatigued, and 85 percent reported driving while drowsy. There are no regulated work-hour standards for law enforcement and corrections personnel; however, police officers routinely exceed U.S. work-hour standards for power plant operators, truck drivers, and airline pilots. Depression and suicidal thoughts increase for male officers as their overtime increases; for female officers, these mental states are more affected by shift changes. Vila and several of his colleagues are making plans to create a laboratory setting in which officers, intentionally deprived of sleep for 24 hours or more, will test their shooting, driving, and other skills when drowsy. This research will use simulators, peripheral awareness monitors, communications equipment, and exercise machinery, all of which will be used to test officers' judgment and physical skills.

Date Published: March 1, 2008