This study carried out with experts from Washington State University aims to test whether a training intervention can improve officer health and wellbeing, by improving their sleep and reducing their fatigue levels.  The overarching intent to create a positive culture of support around sleep, health, and wellbeing.

The pilot study

To trial this study we initially worked with four police forces, these were Surrey and Sussex, Thames Valley and West Yorkshire Police.

This study measured wrist actigraphy to objectively measure sleep quantity and quality, immediately before and approximately six weeks after a fatigue-management training intervention.  In addition, self-reported sleep, health, and wellbeing data was gathered from participants before and after the training.  Fifty police officers were enrolled in the study and completed baseline testing, training intervention, and post-training testing.  Testing involved wearing a wrist actigraph (watch type device) to objectively measure sleep quantity and quality for seven consecutive days immediately before completing the training, and again approximately six weeks after completing the training.  Participants also responded to a set of questions investigating their sleep, health, and wellbeing. 

The fatigue management intervention consisted of a single video-based training session, delivered virtually. The training content included the science of sleep, safety and performance risks associated with fatigue, health consequences of sleep restriction, sleep hygiene tips, fatigue countermeasures, and stress management to improve sleep.  The training video was approximately 60 minutes in length.

Results

Before the training intervention, participants received on average 6.9 hours of sleep per 24-hour period.  Following the training intervention, participants received on average 7.3 hours of sleep per 24-hour period.  This was a statistically significant improvement.  A significant result was also found on sleep quality, which improved from 84% before the intervention, to 87% after the training.

The fatigue management training resulted in many other positive health benefits.  Before the training only 16% of participants were satisfied with their sleep, compared to 36% following the training.  Of particular note was the elimination of dozing off at the wheel, from 4% to 0% of the sample.

Additionally, large reductions were observed in sleep disturbance associated with hypervigilance or trauma (from 53% to 32% of the sample), excessive daytime sleepiness (from 24% to 10% of the sample), constant tiredness (from 27% to 18% of the sample), and general trouble sleeping (from 56% to 39% of the sample). 

Furthermore, post-traumatic stress symptoms were reduced from being experienced by 17% to 10% before and after the training.  Related, hyper-vigilance reduced from being experienced by 46% to 32%.

What’s next

We will be running this programme with further forces during the winter and will be contacting forces directly.