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The impact of total sleep deprivation upon cognitive functioning in firefighters

Authors Kujawski S, Słomko J, Tafil-Klawe M, Zawadka-Kunikowska M, Szrajda J, Newton JL, Zalewski P, Klawe JJ

Received 8 November 2017

Accepted for publication 19 January 2018

Published 8 May 2018 Volume 2018:14 Pages 1171—1181


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 6

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Sławomir Kujawski,1 Joanna Słomko,1 Małgorzata Tafil-Klawe,2 Monika Zawadka-Kunikowska,1 Justyna Szrajda,1 Julia L Newton,3 Paweł Zalewski,1 Jacek J Klawe1

1Department of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Ergonomics, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland; 2Department of Human Physiology, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland; 3Institute for Cellular Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, Framlington Place, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

Introduction: Firefighters as a profession are required to maintain high levels of attention for prolonged periods. However, total sleep deprivation (TSD) could influence negatively upon performance, particularly when the task is prolonged and repetitive.
Purpose: The aim of this study is to examine the influence of TSD on cognitive functioning in a group of firefighters.
Subjects and methods: Sixty volunteers who were active male fire brigade officers were examined with a computerized battery test that consisted of simple reaction time (SRT) (repeated three times), choice reaction time, visual attention test, and delayed matching to sample. Six series of measurements were undertaken over a period of TSD.
Results: Performance in the second attempt in SRT test was significantly worse in terms of increased number of errors and, consequently, decreased number of correct responses during TSD. In contrast, the choice reaction time number of correct responses as well as the visual attention test reaction time for all and correct responses significantly improved compared to initial time points.
Conclusion: The study has confirmed that subjects committed significantly more errors and, consequently, noted a smaller number of correct responses in the second attempt of SRT test. However, the remaining results showed reversed direction of TSD influence. TSD potentially leads to worse performance in a relatively easy task in a group of firefighters. Errors during repetitive tasks in firefighting routines could potentially translate into catastrophic consequences.

Keywords: constant routine protocol, simple reaction time, choice reaction time, visual attention test, delayed matching to sample mental functioning

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