The link between police work and poor health

Two police officers walking

Shift work and stress

New research reveals that police officers are the group most at risk for health issues.

The University of Buffalo School of Public Health study uncovers the two factors that are putting officers most at risk: shift work and stress.

But the real problem is these two things are unavoidable. They come with the job.

Police officers are among the group getting the least sleep, on a regular basis.

Whether on permanent or rotating shifts, officers can go weeks or even more, without a good night’s sleep.

Add to this, the isolation of time away from family and friends, and it becomes more than just a lack of sleep.

By sleeping less, officers are at risk of decreased mental faculties, mood disorders, depression, work-related injuries, heart disease, and cancer.

There’s also a strong connection between sleeplessness, shift work, and overall health.

An increase in metabolic syndrome can lead to abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, type two diabetes, resistance to insulin, and possible stroke.

Working nights

Dark outside? That’s a sign it’s time to sleep. There’s a reason it’s hard to fall asleep during the day and stay awake at night.

As humans, we’re not programmed to function this way.

But what’s the solution when officers have to work overnight?

You need to take your health into your own hands. Here are some simple tasks that go a long way to living healthier, happier lives:

  • Communicate your new sleeping patterns with your family, so they know when not to disturb you
  • Allow yourself time to get enough sleep between shifts
  • Learn to say no to things that don’t serve you
  • Avoid heavy foods and alcoholic beverages before going to sleep
  • Reduce your caffeine intake and stay away from caffeine and other stimulants, especially at night
  • Choose a quiet, dark, cool and comfortable place to sleep, especially if sleeping during non-standard hours
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Establish and maintain an exercise routine to reduce stress, improve personal health and help you sleep
  • Don’t isolate yourself. Keep in close contact with your friends and don’t let your personal life, especially things like hobbies, suffer.
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