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The U.S. Army Prioritizes Sleep for Soldiers

Sleep, nutrition, and exercise—these are the 3 “pillars” of good health in the Army’s Performance Triad, a major public health campaign to support the well-being and readiness of soldiers. The first of its kind, the Performance Triad gives Soldiers research-based information and tools to take care of their health and achieve high performance levels. The Army is taking the research on sleep’s role in physical and mental health, strength, and performance seriously. Soldiers are versed in the merits of good sleep and how affects them. For example,Helps to maintain a healthy weight Helps fight infections Promotes peak performance Supports muscle repair and growth Increases mental acuity Promotes a sense of well-being Lowers the risk of PTSD, depression, and anxietyThe…

5 Items That Will Help You Sleep Anywhere

While most of your nights are probably spent in a bed, there might be moments when you find yourself needing to sleep in a less-than-desirable location. Here’s a prime example: when you’re traveling and are forced to sleep while sitting in a plane, train, or car. What can you do so that you can actually sleep and feel rested in the morning? Start by stashing these five items in your bag.A comfortable eye mask: Light can reach your eyes even when they’re closed, which means that those dim, overhead cabin lights in the plane or headlights from other cars are no good. An eye mask can keep you in the darkness that…

Helping Veterans Sleep

Sleep loss is a widespread problem, and military veterans are particularly susceptible. Vets are four times as likely to have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In addition, those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or a traumatic brain injury have a higher incidence of OSA, meaning that psychiatric and sleep disorders are often linked. Research-based sleep techniques are being developed for those with PTSD, so it’s important to seek specialized help. Warning signs of sleep trouble: Sleep troubles can look different depending on the person, but it’s important to seek help if you have warning signs such as,Mood symptoms like lack of motivation, depression or anxiety that interfere in work or daily life. Lack of…

How a Parent’s Deployment Affects the Family’s Sleep

Active duty is, of course, difficult for the person who is serving in the military—he or she is far from home, often in a dangerous place, and dealing with a lot of stress and physical demands. But the deployment can also be tough on the family members who are left at home. When someone is deployed, the person’s spouse often reports having poorer sleep quality compared with when the whole family is together. And compared with the general population, spouses of deployed service members are likelier to sleep fewer than seven hours a night. (The recommended amount is seven to nine hours a night.) It isn’t just the grown-ups who are affected, either. Kids can…

How to Deal with a Spouse Who Has PTSD Nightmares

Night terrors and nightmares can be scary for the person who is experiencing them. But they can be especially frightening for a spouse or bed partner who finds himself or herself a helpless bystander. Anyone can experience nightmares or night terrors, but as many as 96% of people with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suffer from vivid nightmares that can feel overwhelmingly real. And unlike garden-variety bad dreams, those nightmares are more likely to involve physical thrashing or other bodily movements. For some, that can make sleeping in the same bed difficult, if not dangerous. Nevertheless, there are things that you can do to support your partner during the day that will set you both up for…

How to Train Yourself to Sleep in Noisy Environments

There are situations in life where it’s smart to catch some shuteye whenever you can. This is especially true when you’re not getting as much sleep as you need. Often dull travel time presents a key opportunity to recoup some sleep. But the problem is, the noisy environment on a plane, helicopter, cargo ship, or land-based vehicle may not be conducive to falling or staying asleep, whether you’re a soldier or an everyday traveler. Armed with the following tips, you’ll be able to train yourself to grab a power nap or a long snooze in a loud setting.Block the sounds around you. Carry disposable, foam earplugs: Pop them in, and you’ll at…

How to Bank Sleep and Stay Alert for All-night Duty

It’s one thing to pull an all-nighter to cram for an exam or write a paper in college. It’s another thing altogether to be on all-night duty in the military: Alertness, focus, vigilance, and quick reactions are essential in that scenario. There’s no margin for error. The following proven strategies will help you stay sharp for the night shift. When you know that all-night duty is coming your way, try to bank some extra hours of sleep in advance to deepen your reserves; this will help you feel and function better while you’re on duty. You can do this by going to sleep earlier and/or waking up later in the days leading up to your…

3 Ways to Adjust to Sleeping in a Room with Others

If you’re used to the comfort and quiet of sleeping solo or with one other person, moving into a barracks, tent, cabin, or other sleep quarters with other people can be a shock to the system. Fortunately, there’s growing awareness of the importance of military personnel getting enough sleep. But with all those breathing, snoring, sleep-talking, tossing and turning bodies around you, it may be difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep initially. Here are easy ways to improve your odds of getting good quality sleep in a room with other people.Create quiet. While you can’t control the noise around you—from outside vehicles, snoring soldiers, and other sources—you can mitigate your…

Soldiers and Sleep: The Military's Shifting Stance

Views on shuteye among our armed forces are evolving for the better. When it comes to sleep, the U.S. military is adopting a new attitude. Today’s law of the land includes commander-developed sleep plans to help soldiers perform to the best of their abilities, remain safe, and possibly avoid mental health issues down the road. In fact, the Army has implemented a plan called the Performance Triad—a focus on sleep, as well as physical fitness and proper nutrition—to “improve readiness and increase resilience through public health initiatives and leadership engagement.” Science is on the military’s side: Getting fewer than eight hours of sleep puts soldiers and their companions at the same risk as if they had…

Up All Night: How Soldiers Deal with Sleep Deprivation

Troops have no choice but to learn how to reduce the effects of fatigue. Just like everyone else, most soldiers should, ideally, get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Previously, Army guidelines had suggested only half that amount, but Army doctors revised it in 2010 because of concerns about sleep-deprived soldiers in combat. However, it isn’t always feasible for soldiers to get that much shut-eye, and long-term sleep deprivation can lead to serious health consequences. When they’re in combat, sleep-deprived or fatigued troops could suffer from impaired judgment, delayed reaction times, and fuzzy memories. Some experts believe that sleep deprivation is even linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Even if they can’t get seven…