Shift work is one of several stressors that may affect the quality and quantity of sleep. The authors assessed the association of shift work with prevalence of sleep problems and hours of sleep reported by 112 police officers in Buffalo, New York. In this cross-sectional study, randomly selected participants responded to self-administered questionnaires in 1999, with 100% participation rate. Participants responded 'yes' or 'no' when asked if they worked shift work; they responded to eight sleep-related questions using a six-point Likert scale and reported the number of hours of sleep. Univariate analyses, t-tests, Pearson's correlation, and analysis of variance were employed. Prevalence ratios (PR) were obtained from Poisson regression models to examine the association of shift work with sleep quality and quantity. Participants ranged in age from 26 to 61 years old (mean +/- S.D. = 39.7 +/- 7.5 years), and 22.3% were shift workers. Sleep problems with the highest prevalence were tiredness upon awakening (89.0%) and snoring (83.3%); sleep apnea had the lowest prevalence (11.2%). Fewer than half of all officers reported sleeping for 2.7 hours during the week (39.3%) and weekend (48.2%). In general, higher depression scores and lower physical activity scores were more likely to be seen in officers who had severe sleep problems. Larger anthropometric indices were significantly associated with more frequent snoring. Shift work was significantly associated with tiredness upon awakening before and after (PR = 1.16; 95% confidence interval = 1.02, 1.33) adjustment for years of service, depression, BMI, and physical activity. No associations were observed between shift work and other sleep problems.