Here, the terms “trouble sleeping” and “insomnia” are meant to cover a wide range of issues around sleeping. There is a distinction between trouble sleeping and insomnia. Trouble sleeping can happen during times of stress or life disruption as your mind is “busy” trying to digest the information of the day.
An ongoing sleep issue that affecting other parts of your life (i.e., work, relationships, etc.) is when insomnia may be the cause. With the disruptive nature of shift work, the mind and body may have trouble relaxing, or circadian rhythms may become off balance.
Answering a few questions can be a great start to examining the impact of your sleep issues:
Read on to identify if you may have an issue that could be addressed with the help of other resources or a peer mentor.
Signs are what may be observed by others. Symptoms are the things reported by a first responder. Many of the following can be signs or symptoms:
In a recent study conducted by The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (2015), with more than 7,000 firefighters across the United States as subjects, about 37% had been diagnosed with at least one sleep disorder during their career. Examples of these diagnoses include: obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg disorder, and shift work disorder. Furthermore, they purport that firefighter sleep problems are a likely link for other health problems including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. This study also reasons that these sleep problems could explain why more than 60% of firefighter deaths are caused by either heart attacks or traffic accidents (Barger, 2015).
Although these may be hard to completely follow, especially while working, they are worth consideration.
These goals are only examples. Use them as a guide, not an absolute. You know if there is a problem; let now be the time to fix it.
Reaching out for help is never a sign of weakness, but rather one of strength. It may be annoying or frustrating to think about what to do and how to approach it, but it can be done. There are other first responders who understand where you’ve been. If you cannot reach or maintain all of these goals on your own, get connected with a peer support mentor.