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

Article


Vincent, Grace E., Ferguson, Sally, Larsen, Brianna, Ridgers, Nicola D., 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. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-018-1304-9
Article Title

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

ERA Journal ID13579
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsVincent, Grace E. (Author), Ferguson, Sally (Author), Larsen, Brianna (Author), Ridgers, Nicola D. (Author), Snow, Rod (Author) and Aisbett, Brad (Author)
Journal TitleInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Journal Citation91, pp. 601-611
Number of Pages11
Year2018
PublisherSpringer
Place of PublicationGermany
ISSN0340-0131
1432-1246
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-018-1304-9
Web Address (URL)https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00420-018-1304-9
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.

KeywordsFirefighting; Sleep restriction; Physical performance; Heat; Physical activity
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020420702. Exercise physiology
420799. Sports science and exercise not elsewhere classified
Byline AffiliationsCentral Queensland University
Deakin University
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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