Mental Health of Canadian Firefighters: The Impact of Sleep Academic Article uri icon

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  • Volunteer and career firefighters are at risk of major depressive disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol use disorder, and other mental health disorders due to the demanding and unpredictable nature of their employment. The mental health risks are exacerbated by the need to work extended hours, night shifts, and/or rotating schedules, or the competing demands of other employment, especially in volunteer firefighters. The mental health disorders and risk factors interact with altered sleeping patterns. In the current study, we examined volunteer and career firefighters regarding the association between mental health and sleep, drawing from a national Canadian mental health survey of 1217 firefighters. Most (69%) of the firefighters reported less than ideal sleep quality and 21% screened positive for clinical insomnia, with no significant difference between volunteer and career subgroups. Firefighters with insomnia had higher odds ratios (OR) and frequencies for PTSD (OR = 4.98), generalized anxiety disorder (OR = 7.15), panic disorder (OR = 6.88), social phobia (OR = 4.98), and major depressive disorder (OR = 7.91), than firefighters without insomnia. The burden of sleep disorders and their association with mental health disorders suggests that sleep should be considered in health monitoring and self-management, environmental design, fire service work-organization policies, and health programming.


  • Cramm, Heidi
  • Richmond, Rachel
  • Jamshidi, Laleh
  • Edgelow, Megan
  • Groll, Dianne
  • Ricciardelli, Rose
  • MacDermid, Joy
  • Keiley, Michael
  • Carleton, R Nicholas

publication date

  • December 16, 2021