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Undiagnosed Sleep Problems May Be Common Among Firefighters
Apr 05, 2017

Recent study found that many firefighters may have undiagnosed sleep disorders.

The study, conducted by a research team from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, examined nearly 7,000 firefighters from 66 fire departments across the United States. Of those, 37% suffered from a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, insomnia, shift-work disorder and restless leg syndrome, according to a report by Health-Day News.

These same firefighters were more likely to have been involved in a car accident or to have fallen asleep while driving, the study notes. They also were more likely to have chronic health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, depression and anxiety.

"Our findings demonstrate the impact of common sleep disorders on firefighter health and safety, and their connection to the two leading causes of death among firefighters," which are heart attacks and car crashes, says Laura Barger, associate physiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders.

"Unfortunately, more than 80% of firefighters who screened positive for a common sleep disorder were undiagnosed and untreated," she says.

Although the findings, reported in the November Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, found an association between sleep disorders and certain health problems in firefighters, they did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, the study says.

The results do open the door to further research on occupational sleep disorders, and article notes.

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