Military Readiness

The Critical Importance of Sleep for Military Personnel

Our military personnel need to be in a state of operational readiness, however, troops are not getting adequate sleep to perform well, make good judgments, or maintain their physical and mental health.   Although Walter Reed Army Institute states “Soldiers require 7-8 hours of good quality sleep every 24-hour period to sustain operational readiness,” the majority of Soldiers get less than 6 hours of sleep nightly.   Providing education to Soldiers on both the necessity of sufficient sleep, and how to ensure they get that sleep, will assist in achieving a high level of operational readiness.

Solutions

Dr. Darley offers sleep education for Soldiers that focuses on skills that can be used right away to improve their sleep and alertness.   This includes addressing extended or erratic work hours and shift work schedules.. Her engaging and down-to-earth style appeals to all types of people.

Logistics

Dr. Darley can speak to groups of up to 400 Soldiers.
She typically provides a powerpoint presentation along with handouts.
The format can vary depending on the needs of the group, from an hour long wellness presentation, to longer in-depth workshops.
Please contact Dr. Darley at drdarley@naturalsleepmedicine.net for speaking fee details.

More info about the problem of sleep for military personnel

Research continues to show that inadequate sleep impairs cognitive and physical performance:

  • Vigilance, reaction time, memory, attention and reasoning are impaired under combat conditions with 3 hours of sleep nightly.
  • Just one night of sleep loss causes deterioration in both vigilance and cognitive tasks.   Not until 12 hours of sleep over 3 days did performance improve to 88% of baseline levels.
  • Among trainees, “marksmanship correlated positively with average nightly sleep during the preceding week”.

Military leaders are required to use judgment in the course of their duties.   This ethical decision-making is impaired by sleep loss:

  • Mature moral reasoning is impaired during partial sleep deprivation among officers.   Moral reasoning under these conditions becomes more rule-based and self-oriented.
  • Early morning awakening of junior officers in a simulated emergency scenario results in poor flexible decision making, including ‘identification of available cover’, ‘extraction of relevant from irrelevant information,’ and ‘use of available assets’.

The effects of inadequate sleep on human mental and physical health have been well documented:

  • Short sleep of 5 hours or less significantly increases suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, both of which are a growing concern among troops.   Other studies showed short sleep is associated with depression, PTSD, panic disorder and risky health behaviors such as cigarettes, alcohol and suicide.
  • Sleep deprivation increases obesity by changing appetite hormones, increasing insulin resistance, and decreasing energy expenditure.   Among U.S. military there is an increase in overweight soldiers.
  • Multiple sleep disorders are associated with decreased heart health.