MICROSLEEP: ANOTHER PEACE OFFICER PERIL
Few would debate the environment of risk in which we engage on a daily basis. The dangers and threats are obvious to all. However, one of the oft times forgotten hazards is one we probably all have experienced. Perhaps we have never been stabbed or shot, or taken hostage by a crazed individual or group, or even assaulted sometime in our career . . . but we ALL have suddenly fallen asleep for a few seconds at a time, facing a condition of potential terror we probably can’t even conceive.
That universal experience is called microsleep. It usually last between 2 and 30 seconds as a part of the brain actually falls asleep. For someone engaged in our occupation, 2 to 30 seconds can be a lifetime! It can allow a vehicle we’re driving to veer out of control, or create a lapse in our assessment of an individual.
During these microsleep episodes as they are called, we are “zoned out’, actually asleep with our eyes remaining open. Even more weird, we may be the only ones NOT knowing about the condition, those around us may be fully aware we are not observing or perceiving a thing!
How do you know the menace is lurking. A few signs include:
- Nodding of the head
- Drooping of the eye lids
- Blank look or staring
- Difficulties concentrating
Keep in mind that frequent episodes of microsleep can be a result of a medical condition like sleep apnea or hypersomnia. But the vast majority of the time it is related to sleep deprivation or sleep debt. It hits most often in the early morning hours or right after lunch.
Simple solution – GET MORE SLEEP!
In effect, this may be a “red flag” for the initiation of more progress toward maximized good health. It begins with ourselves, may include our family, and mandates a department-wide expression of concern and compassion for its personnel.
Staying healthy and safe can’t be a myth . . . in EVERY case it is a must!”