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The Hidden Enemy of the Fire Service: Sleep Deprivation

Giuliana Rankin |

The Hidden Enemy of the Fire Service: Sleep Deprivation

 

Guest post written by Fire Captain Dominic Magagnini

Unknown Consequences

When I made the decision to become a public servant in the fire service, I was completely unaware of the hidden side effects of the profession. Everyone speaks highly of the fire service, but few will tell you about the daily sacrifices firefighters are asked to make.

There are many positive aspects to the job. Firefighters truly get to make a difference in their community, people are generally excited to see us when we respond to emergencies, we make a good living, and enjoy other benefits such as strong pension and time off programs. 

However, there are significant health consequences that take a lasting toll on firefighters' lives. Unfortunately these consequences have largely been ignored in the past. 

However, if we address the elephant in the room and take a closer look at these side effects, firefighters can take steps to protect themselves and keep their bodies ready for duty. 

Lack of Sleep among Firefighters

When people think of the health consequences directly related to being a firefighter, respiratory diseases or the risk of burns may come to mind. What most people do not realize is that one of the most prominent health issues among firefighters is sleep disorders.

A recent study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that high rates of sleep deprivation, poor mental well-being, and depression were being reported among firefighters. The study found that 59% of firefighters reported sleep deprivation, 21% of firefighters reported poor mental well-being, and 11% of firefighters reported depression (1).

Another study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine supported the findings that firefighters are suffering from high rates of insomnia, depression, and other mental health issues. This study also found that symptoms of insomnia, depression, and nightmares have a strong relationship to emotion regulation difficulties (2).

It is a well known fact that sleep is a critical factor in maintaining strong physical and mental health. The amount and quality of sleep which we get ultimately affects the way our body functions when we are awake. With the rise of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and substance abuse among members of the fire service, the issues of sleep deprivation and insomnia urgently need to be discussed.

Our ability to function in a high stress, fast paced, and ever-changing environment is paramount to our success on the job. Sleep deprivation is detrimental to our ability to quickly process information and make sound decisions. This ultimately inhibits our ability to keep our community safe. 

Health and wellness must be promoted to a greater extent in the fire service. Being a firefighter is an incredibly high stress and anxiety inducing job. Our ability to protect our community is dependent upon our cognitive state and mental health is currently not being emphasized enough. This urgently needs to change. 

CBD Solutions for Sleep Deprivation

There is a laundry list of health and wellness issues in the fire service that need to be addressed. Sleep deprivation and insomnia are a good place to start since so many other mental and physical health problems can stem from the lack of quality sleep.

One potential solution to the sleep problems which many firefighters face is CBD. Several studies have suggested that CBD may help people fall asleep and stay asleep (3). Additionally, CBD has been known to help manage and reduce pain (4) which can ultimately impact someone’s ability to gain a quality night of sleep.

When I originally started taking CBD on a daily basis, I actually was not intending to address my sleep issues. However, since taking CBD, the quality of sleep which I get has changed immensely.

Prior to taking CBD, I used to be tired during the middle of the day and I lacked motivation and energy. This was very challenging given the nature of my job and my role as a parent to small children. By gaining a better quality of sleep, I have also been able to address and tackle other problems in my life, such as my alcohol abuse, mental instability, and lack of a healthy diet. 

By addressing sleep issues at the core, the potential to eliminate other diseases, aches, and pains arises. Being a firefighter is not an easy job. Injuries and pain are the daily reality of the job. CBD has the capability to address a large number of the problems which firefighters face, whether that be sleep deficiencies, pain, or other health concerns.

I am not a scientist or a doctor who has extensively studied the effects of CBD on sleep. However, through my personal experiences, I have first hand witnessed the positive effects that CBD can have on someone. My family, friends, and I have all significantly benefited from CBD in various ways. 

On a daily basis I see the mental and physical health complications which firefighters are fighting. Without a doubt there is a stigma in the fire service regarding the use of CBD. Because of this, I want to address these negative connotations about CBD and spread the word about my personal experiences with CBD. Let’s end the stigma surrounding CBD and help firefighters address their health problems which have been ignored for so long. 

  1. Carey MG, Al-Zaiti SS, Dean GE, Sessanna L, Finnell DS: Sleep problems, depression, substance use, social bonding, and quality of life in professional firefighters. J Occup Environ Med 2011, 53: 928–933.
  2. https://jcsm.aasm.org/doi/full/10.5664/jcsm.5492 Melanie A. Hom, MS, Ian H. Stanley, BA, Megan L. Rogers, BA, Mirela Tzoneva, BS, Rebecca A. Bernert, PhD*, Thomas E. Joiner, PhD*. Published Online:February 15, 2016
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476#:~:text=CBD%20is%20commonly%20used%20to,different%20types%20of%20chronic%20pain. Peter Grinspoon, MD
  4. https://nanocraftcbd.com/blogs/post/cbd-for-pain-relief-the-future-of-recovery-for-athletes?_pos=5&_sid=f8427e8d6&_ss=r Published Online: Austin Beals October 30, 2018



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