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The sleep architecture of Australian volunteer firefighters during a multi-day simulated wildfire suppression: Impact of sleep restriction and temperature
journal contributionposted on 2018-06-28, 00:00 authored by Michael CvirnMichael Cvirn, J Dorrian, Bradley SmithBradley Smith, Sarah Jay, Grace VincentGrace Vincent, Sally FergusonSally Ferguson
Wildland firefighting exposes personnel to combinations of occupational and environmental stressors that include physical activity, heat and sleep restriction. However, the effects of these stressors on sleep have rarely been studied in the laboratory, and direct comparisons to field scenarios remain problematic. The aim of this study was to examine firefighters' sleep during a three-day, four-night simulated wildfire suppression that included sleep restriction and physical activity circuits representative of firefighting wildfire suppression tasks in varied temperatures. Sixty-one volunteer firefighters (37.5. ±. 14.5 years of age, mean. ±. SD) were assigned to one of three conditions: control (n=25; 8. h sleep opportunities and 18-20. °C), awake (n=25; 4. h sleep opportunities and 18-20. °C) or awake/hot (n=11; 4. h sleep opportunities and 33-35. °C during the day and 23-25. °C during the night). Results demonstrated that amounts of N1, N2 and R sleep, TST, SOL and WASO declined, whilst sleep efficiency increased significantly in the awake and awake/hot conditions compared to the control condition. Results also demonstrated that SWS sleep remained relatively stable in the awake and awake/hot conditions compared to control values. Most importantly, no significant differences were found for any of the sleep measures between the awake and awake/hot conditions. Thus, working in hot daytime temperatures in combination with sleep restriction during the night did not affect patterns of sleep compared to working in temperate conditions in combination with sleep restriction during the night. However, the effects on sleep of high (>25. °C) night-time temperatures with sleep restriction in addition to physical activity remains to be studied. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.