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

Vincent, Grace E. and Ferguson, Sally and Larsen, Brianna and Ridgers, Nicola D. and Snow, Rod and Aisbett, Brad (2018) Adding sleep restriction to the equation: impact on wildland firefighters’ work performance and physiology in hot conditions. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 91. pp. 601-611. ISSN 0340-0131


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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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Health and Wellbeing (1 Jan 2015 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Health and Wellbeing (1 Jan 2015 -)
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2020 04:09
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2020 06:05
Uncontrolled Keywords: Firefighting; Sleep restriction; Physical performance; Heat; Physical activity
Fields of Research (2008): 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science > 110602 Exercise Physiology
11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science > 110699 Human Movement and Sports Science not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 92 Health > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920505 Occupational Health
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-018-1304-9
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/39579

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