Behavioral Biology

study participant hooked up to sleep measurement apparatus

WRAIR's Behavioral Biology investigators develop knowledge products and materiel solutions to enhance Soldier alertness, decision-making, and performance in the context of degraded sleep quantity and quality across the spectrum of Army operations. 

It was believed that Soldiers operating in high-tempo, operational environments could operate effectively on four hours of sleep. Yet scientists have long understood the relationship between sleep loss and impaired performance, noting that 51% of active duty U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy personnel have obstructive sleep apnea and another 24% suffer from insomnia, making them significant threats to readiness and lethality. Yet, a full night's sleep is often not an option for Soldiers—especially those operating in combat environments. 

WRAIR attempts to understand and mitigate the relationship between sleep loss and Soldier performance using study data from field operations, specially designed human sleep research suites, and mathematical modeling and simulation tools. Behavioral Biology studies the utility of the WRAIR-discovered phenomenon of "sleep banking" against future sleep demand, models sleep and performance, maximizes the recuperative value of sleep, characterizes stimulants and sleep-inducing drugs, and studies chemical interventions for acute stress exposure.

A list of resources, fact sheets, checklists and more that have been contributed to or developed by Behavioral Biology can be found here.

Research Areas

volunteer filling out form on bed
Join a Study!

Are you interested in joining our research? Healthy volunteers are need for sleep studies! You will be compensated for your time and participation.

soldier and scientist examine data
Performance Assessment and Chemical Evaluation

The Behavioral Biology branch’s Performance Assessment and Chemical Evaluation (PACE) lab identifies neurobiological targets and pharmacological compounds that effectively promote behavioral, physiological, and emotional recovery from traumatic stress exposure. 

Soldiers sleeping
Sleep and Performance

In order to optimize Soldier health and performance by minimizing the negative effects of operational sleep loss, WRAIR conducts sleep restriction and deprivation studies and evaluates countermeasures such as sleep banking.