Impacts of Australian firefighters’ on-call work arrangements on the sleep of partners

Grace E. Vincent, Simone Karan, Jessica L. Paterson, Amy Reynolds, Michelle Dominiak, Sally A. Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


On-call work arrangements are commonly utilised in the emergency services sector and are consistency associated with inadequate sleep. Despite sleep being a common shared behaviour, studies are yet to assess the impact of on-call work on the sleep of co-sleeping partners. This study aimed to investigate whether frequent 24/7 on-call work impacted the sleep and relationship happiness of firefighters’ partners. Two key research questions were investigated: (1) Does the frequency of calls impact sleep and relationship happiness? and, (2) Does the (a) sleep quantity and (b) sleep quality of partners impact perceived relationship happiness? A cross-sectional study was conducted using an online questionnaire completed by partners of on-call workers (n = 66; 93% female). The questionnaire included items on (i) sleep quantity and quality, (ii) on-call sleep disturbances and, (iii) relationship happiness. Responses were analysed using logistic regression models. Higher overnight call frequency was associated with greater self-reported levels of inadequate sleep (<7 h per night; p = 0.024). Support for continuance of a firefighter’s role was less likely if the partner reported they regularly had trouble falling asleep within 30 min (p < 0.001). There were no other significant relationships between the frequency of calls or other sleep quantity or quality variables and relationship happiness. This study provides important first insights into how firefighters’ on-call work arrangements impact partners’ sleep. Future research is needed across periods of high and low call demand, using objective measures of sleep to further define the impacts of on-call work on partners’ sleep.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-51
Number of pages13
JournalClocks & Sleep
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • on-call
  • partners
  • sleep
  • relationship happiness
  • sleepiness
  • impacts


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