Vol. 81, No. 3News notes

A male RCMP officer approaching a police car at night.

Program promotes sleep for officers’ success

New online training will help RCMP officers better manage their sleep so they can perform their work more effectively, whether during the day or night. Credit: Serge Gouin, RCMP


Sleep issues are always on the minds of Fiona Vincent and Dr. Charles Samuels, who say fatigue is one of the biggest health and safety challenges facing police officers.

The duo are working on an online training program for police about the importance of sleep management.

Vincent, who is manager of the Fitness and Health Promotion Unit for Saskatchewan RCMP, and Samuels, the medical director of the Calgary-based Centre for Sleep and Human Performance, want to make information about fatigue and the importance of sleep more available to police.

"Not everyone is in a position to be able to easily work towards making a positive change in their life behaviours," says Vincent. "What we really want to get right is to provide information to members about the impact fatigue has on their performance and coping strategies."

In 2016, Vincent and Samuels developed and delivered an in-person sleep-management program to hundreds of officers in Saskatchewan. It provided information on how to improve sleep, the importance of nutrition and exercise, measures to manage fatigue and the importance of daytime rest. Samuels says making positive changes involves finding a balance in behaviours.

For instance, he says caffeinated drinks may not be a wise choice before bed, but during the day could be helpful.

"Caffeine during the day can improve alertness and battle fatigue," says Samuels.

He's committed to supporting the needs of police and other first responders.

"The officer who works here (for the RCMP) can't relax. They're carrying a gun," says Samuels. "They don't come into the same job each day where they can hang out at the office. They're responsible for a lot of things in their community."

The online program will be launched in Saskatchewan later in 2019 while a national release is planned for 2020.

Information about the Fatigue Management Training Program can be found on Saskatchewan RCMP's internal website under employee tools and fitness and health promotion or on the sleep centre's website.

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