Blue Line

World Sleep Day: Report on the role of sleep from IACP & CACP Wellness conferences

March 17, 2023  By Blue Line Staff / HALEO

Mar. 18, 2023 – The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) both recently held their respective Wellness Conferences. Chiefs and wellness leaders from organizations across North America, Europe and Australia got together to discuss officer’s wellness, both mental and physical health. It’s with no surprise that many topics of discussions revolved around mental health and resilience, and in both events a strong focus was put on officer’s sleep. Sleep has been described as a key pillar of wellness and data is showing that police officers are five times more at risk of suffering of poor sleep than civilians, mainly due to their shift work and rotating schedule and the high level of stress they face on a daily basis.

Experts including Dr. Maude Bouchard, neuropsychologist and director of R&D at HALEO, Dr. Philippe Stenstrom, scientific director at HALEO, and Julien Heon, vice president – law enforcement at HALEO, were invited to take part of panels and share some of their insights at both events. HALEO is conducting research in the field of sleep science and working with several police organizations across North America. “We have been collaborating with several organizations to effectively help them better understand the impact of sleep on their officers performance, safety and the organization KPI’s. We are seeing strong correlations between sleep and some of the current challenges police departments are facing, such as officers’ moral and resilience, the retention, absenteeism and disability rate and the mental health cases increasing,” commented Julien Heon who is responsible for HALEO’s engagement with Law Enforcement across North America.

During their presentation, HALEO also showcased how sleep being an open-conversation topic can help organizations struggling to be successfully prevent mental health cases from getting problematic through an easier and more accessible conversation. “We support the work being done to remove the stigma, but we also are seeing sleep being a good early detection tactic that carries less stigma than other mental health disorders,” Heon further added.

At IACP in California, Dr. Maude Bouchard presented on the physiology of sleep and explained what leads police officers to be more at risk of suffering from poor sleep. “We have the privilege of working closely with several police departments. Not only do we see a strong interest in our program, but we see first-hand the clinical efficacy of the proprietary CBT-I for shift worker protocol that we use with this population,” she further explained the impacts of addressing and treating poor sleep for these members and the role it plays on their health and safety.

Almost simultaneously, Dr. Philippe Stenstrom presented his findings and a whitepaper on the topic in Ottawa at CACP, citing research demonstrating that the higher prevalence of sleep disorders in law enforcement and first responders is not anecdotal. “According to the scientific literature, police officers are especially prone to sleep disorders, which can have significant effects on both their personal and professional lives. Our program’s clinical outcomes indicate that improving sleep has numerous positive effects on mental health. Additionally, a growing body of evidence demonstrate that restoring sleep can benefit multiple aspects of physical health, as well as boost morale and resilience,” said Dr Philippe Stenstrom, PhD, Scientific Director at HALEO. He further explained the scientific nature of the positive impact the sleep improvement has on members and their organizations.

To conclude these presentations, the team also presented a testimonial from Dr. Louis-Francis Fortin, chief psychologist for the Montreal Police Department. Dr. Fortin commented, “Sleep is a major component of health and recovery and having a quick access to a specialized resource in managing sleep disorder for police personnel that must cope with shift schedule and non usual work hours meets our mission to improve the quality of our services and gives us more time in psychotherapy to pursuits complementary goals to recovery. We are seeing the impacts of HALEO’s solution firsthand on our members.”

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