Sleepless Syndrome

Do you have trouble sleeping at night?   Of course we all have had at least a few sleepless nights, whether it is due to back pain or other ailments, or perhaps a new baby.

Whatever the reason, Web MD has reported that new research suggests that sleep deprived people have trouble recognizing facial expressions of emotion.

The study, conducted by UC Berkeley researchers, suggests that this is true especially when a sleepless person encounters an angry or threatening person who is calming down.

Matthew P. Walker, PhD, director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory and associate professor at UC Berkeley, declares [in reference to their study], “As the picture starts to get less and less threatening people who are sleep deprived continue to rate them as threatening.”

If this research is correct then perhaps we should be shorten the shifts of police officers, who often times have long shifts on a monthly basis.  What do you think? Does this research shoe that shorter shifts could possibly have eliminated wrongful suits against law enforcement?

He goes on to purport that not sleeping enough could have profound social consequences especially with people who are frequently called on to quickly assess and respond to interpersonal situations.

Walker states, “Facial expressions are probably the most salient cues that we have in our environment.  They profoundly influence how we behave, and they can rapidly alter your feelings and your actions toward other people”

It should be noted that this is a preliminary study and as not yet been peer reviewed.  However, it was presented at the annual American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society in Minneapolis .

One response to “Sleepless Syndrome”

  1. Keith D. says:

    I think common sense would dictate that police officers would perform better if they were always adequately rested. I think we could do this with just instituting nap times, allowing them 1.5-3 hours uninterrupted for the purpose of sleeping in the middle of their shifts when they’re required to work long shifts (that certainly helped me when I was a chauffeur working very long shifts).

    I’m not in a particularly high stress job myself, but I do know that when I’m tired or sleep deprived, my judgment certainly suffers, and I definitely have less patience. If I haven’t rested adequately for an extended period of time, I am nearly at my worst. The only time I’m worse off is when I’m very sick or have been in continuous, moderate to severe pain for several days straight, or when my patience has expired and I am simply angry under normal circumstances.

    I would think that for police officers, you could take what normal people with normal jobs go through, and multiply it by several times. Their only relief, I would think, would be that they’re bestowed authority that they can wield against those who would provoke them.

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