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06.04.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 5/2018

International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health 5/2018

Adding sleep restriction to the equation: impact on wildland firefighters’ work performance and physiology in hot conditions

Zeitschrift:
International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health > Ausgabe 5/2018
Autoren:
Grace E. Vincent, Sally Ferguson, Brianna Larsen, Nicola D. Ridgers, Rod Snow, Brad Aisbett

Abstract

Purpose

To examine the effects of sleep restriction on firefighters’ physical task performance, physical activity, and physiological and perceived exertion during simulated hot wildfire conditions.

Methods

31 firefighters were randomly allocated to either the hot (n = 18, HOT; 33 °C, 8-h sleep opportunity) or hot and sleep restricted (n = 13, HOT + SR; 33 °C, 4-h sleep opportunity) condition. Intermittent, self-paced work circuits of six firefighting tasks were performed for 3 days. Firefighters self-reported ratings of perceived exertion. Heart rate, core temperature, and physical activity were measured continuously. Fluids were consumed ad libitum, and all food and fluids consumed were recorded. Urine volume and urine specific gravity (USG) were analysed and sleep was assessed using polysomnography (PSG).

Results

There were no differences between the HOT and HOT + SR groups in firefighters’ physical task performance, heart rate, core temperature, USG, or fluid intake. Ratings of perceived exertion were higher (p < 0.05) in the HOT + SR group for two of the six firefighting tasks. The HOT group spent approximately 7 min more undertaking moderate physical activity throughout the 2-h work circuits compared to the HOT + SR group.

Conclusion

Two nights of sleep restriction did not influence firefighters’ physical task performance or physiological responses during 3 days of simulated wildfire suppression. Further research is needed to explore firefighters’ pacing strategies during real wildfire suppression.

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