Deakin University

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

journal contribution
posted on 2018-04-06, 00:00 authored by G E Vincent, S Ferguson, Brianna Larsen, Nicky RidgersNicky Ridgers, Rod SnowRod Snow, Brad AisbettBrad Aisbett
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.



International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health




Heidelberg, Germany







Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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2018, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature