EMS Disordered Sleep And Work Schedule


In the emergency management service (EMS) field, disordered sleep and work schedules have become a daily routine. With an increase in 911 emergency and non-emergency convalescent calls, there is plenty of work to stay busy. With one of the largest populated generations entering the retirement phase of life, most baby boomers have growing health concerns. There is a culture shift that indicates emergency services used more often than in previous years. This growing surge in call volume has placed the additional strains on emergency management service providers who answer the call on a daily basis. This additional responsibility has contributed to a disordered sleep and work schedules. Emergency management service providers sacrifice personal safety and health on a continual basis as they serve the community and patients. Emergency management service providers have a passion for their trade, and often, the sacrifices they make go unnoticed.[1][2][3][4]

Issues of Concern

Several issues contribute to disordered sleep and work schedules for emergency management service providers. Some of these issues are controllable, and some are not. If an emergency management service provider does not have proper money management skills in their personal life, it will create an additional burden on work and sleep schedules. The provider will feel obligated to work massive amounts of overtime to make ends meet. Spending habits play a significant factor in money management. The desire for lavish material items often takes control of better judgment when making budgeting decisions. Impulse buying is also hurtful to budgeting and creates a need for additional overtime hours. This issue is controllable through better money management techniques. Courses like Dave Ramsey are available to learn more about controlling expenses.

Dynamic staffing and scheduling issues are not always within the control of emergency management service, and agencies complain of having only a few qualified applicants to fill the roles.

Pay scales are a direct attribute for an emergency management service provider to sacrifice sleep and work more. Pay plays a large factor when making educational choices for a career field of study. Stagnant wages in the EMS field have caused many "would be" EMS students to pursue other fields of study. Additionally, several emergency management service career professionals have left the field recently to pursue a nursing degree. State emergency management service-controlling agencies have taken notice of staffing issues and are currently conducting surveys regarding pay scale and consequences for emergency management service professionals.

EMS management style and method of delivery are often anemic in substance. Some great personalities are present, while some others lack the basic understanding of what it means to be a leader. The scheduling and sleep disorder takes place when a manager does not properly delegate the workload to emergency management service providers. Proper scheduling technique is a tool, similar to uniforms and oxygen tank brought into a patient's home. A strong leader understands that their role is to provide their team with tools needed for completing the job at hand. A leader understands that the measure of success is how well the organization runs when they are not present. Providing the team with needed tools helps to create a successful emergency management service organization.

Home and life responsibilities play a role in sleep and work disorders. Many times, an emergency management service provider gets little to no sleep during a 24-hour shift. The provider makes their way home looking to pay back their sleep deficit by napping. Noise at home or a room not being dark enough can prevent sleep. Marital and financial stresses are two major issues experienced by emergency management service professionals. Personal and financial responsibilities do not end despite a dynamic work schedule. Many times, a sleep-deprived emergency management service provider will have to run errands after being up most of the night before.

In most states, educational requirements to maintain licensure status have increased. This additional requirement adds training during off-duty hours. There are more college-level courses, additional hours, and requirements to participate in emergency management service-related programs. These requirements furthermore add to the cycle of extra work and disordered sleeping schedules.

Clinical Significance

Disordered sleep and work schedules have a large impact on emergency management service provider performance. Adrenaline provides a performance benefit for bad calls, but daily fatigue leads to more errors during routine, gray-area calls. Driving safety is an important topic during discussions about emergency management service provider sleep and schedule disturbances. Ambulance crashes are highly noticeable in the media and are typically the result of fatigued or distracted driving. Sanctioned defensive driving courses promote more safety, but still don't replace a healthy sleep schedule.[5][6][7][8]

Current research suggests that poor sleep habits accelerate the advancement of the disease process, such as diabetes and heart problems. Often a poor diet is prevalent in the EMS field. Poor food choices, especially late at night, can contribute to sleep problems and disease process. Healthcare courses in prevention can often eliminate or reduce risk factors in diet and sleep problems.

Enjoying time at home with family and/or friends is a vital component of being happy in life. Companionship in some form is desired on every level of human intelligence. Sleep and work schedule disorders often have a direct impact on time at home. The time off from work is largely used to rest from a taxing work schedule. Holidays and appointments often become less important, due to sleep and work schedule disorders.

State emergency management service-controlling agencies are conducting studies in the emergency management service field to correct the issues discussed in this article. New pay scales and scheduling techniques are being considered to address and improve these problems. While some emergency management workers perform the traditional 24-hour shifts, some companies have opted to test a 12-hour shift system. The reduced shifts are aimed at reducing emergency management provider fatigue. The ultimate goal of newer scheduling techniques is the last patient contact of the shift should receive the same level of quality care, as did the first patient of the shift.

Emergency management providers are dedicated to their community and patients and continue to do their jobs while they work on issues involved in their field of work.

Article Details

Article Author

James A. Bardinelli

Article Author

Joseph Roarty

Article Editor:

Scott Goldstein


10/3/2022 8:42:56 PM



Kato N,Takahashi M,Aratake Y,Watanabe M,Sakata Y,Kojima R,Kakinuma M,Shibaoka M,Tanaka K, Sleep-disordered breathing and hypertension in Japanese steel workers. Industrial health. 2008 Jul;     [PubMed PMID: 18544883]


Paciorek M,Byƛkiniewicz K,Bielicki P,Chazan R, [Obstructive sleep apnea in shift workers]. Pneumonologia i alergologia polska. 2006;     [PubMed PMID: 17175976]


Tanigawa T,Muraki I,Umesawa M,Tachibana N,Noda H,Takahashi M,Mutou K,Kage Y,Smith L,Iso H, Sleep-disordered breathing and blood pressure levels among shift and day workers. American journal of hypertension. 2006 Apr;     [PubMed PMID: 16580567]


Mazzetti di Pietralata M,Ballarati G,Castracane RE,Galanti A,Gallo A,Leonardi C,Mazzetti di Pietralata G,Mensa A,Zulli L, Digestive disturbances in shift-workers: a clinical statistical investigation. Progress in clinical and biological research. 1990;     [PubMed PMID: 2217330]


Zhang Y,El Ghaziri M,Dugan AG,Castro ME, Work and Health Correlates of Sleep Quantity and Quality Among Correctional Nurses. Journal of forensic nursing. 2019 Jan/Mar;     [PubMed PMID: 30789467]


Matsangas P,Shattuck NL,Saitzyk A, Sleep-Related Practices, Behaviors, and Sleep-Related Difficulties in Deployed Active-Duty Service Members Performing Security Duties. Behavioral sleep medicine. 2019 Feb 15;     [PubMed PMID: 30764663]


Pellegrino P,Marqueze EC, Aspects of work and sleep associated with work ability in regular aviation pilots. Revista de saude publica. 2019 Jan 31;     [PubMed PMID: 30726497]


Leger D,Esquirol Y,Gronfier C,Metlaine A, [Shift-workers and night-workers' health consequences: State of art and recommendations]. Presse medicale (Paris, France : 1983). 2018 Nov - Dec;     [PubMed PMID: 30446236]