Army

Optimizing sleep as a Soldier: The science, challenges and significance

Soldier
SILVER SPRING, Md. — Sustained mental health is critical to establishing and maintaining a medically ready force, and sleep can play a part in protecting that readiness.  “We can do better for the next generation of Soldiers and address more components of readiness to improve the long-term health and resilience of Soldiers after they get out of the military,” said Dr. Janna Mantua, lead scientist of Operational Research at the Center for Military Psychiatry (CMPN) at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. “They have an important job and we have to make sure they are taken care of.”

Optimizing sleep as a Soldier: The science, challenges and significance

A Soldier sleeps as he readies to deploy.

Sleep in the deployed environment and historical military attitudes

SILVER SPRING, Md. - Deployed Soldiers who may get only four to five hours of sleep per night do not receive as much of the end-of-night rapid eye movement sleep as someone who is getting seven to eight hours of sleep, which can affect daily performance and have a negative impact over time.

Nonlinear sleep-wake schedules are common in a deployed environment, which can be challenging to manage.

Optimizing sleep as a Soldier: The science, challenges and significance

A Soldier from Walter Reed Army Institute of Reseach demonstrates the use inside of the sleep suite facility.

The Science

SILVER SPRING, Md. - Imagine you start the day with your phone charged to 80%. However, there won’t be any outlets to recharge until the end of the day. Phone calls, text messages, social media breaks — it adds up. Will 80% be enough to last the average work day?

That is essentially how people function with even mild sleep debt, which is something most of us suffer from. A third of US adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention.