Americans have a hard time sleeping. In fact, around 37% of Americans don’t get their recommended hours of sleep per night.
The sleeping needs of a person change over the years, and if you want to sleep well, you need to know how much sleep do you need based on your age.
As a general rule, an adult person needs seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
When it comes to military workers, around 76% of them have some kind of sleeping issues.
Service members cannot get enough sleep for many reasons, including stress and dangerous factors such as training, battle, conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), jet lag from frequent travel, adn overall demanding military culture.
How Much Do Service Members Sleep?
Little is known, but around 60% of service members tend to sleep less than six hours per night. This is heavy sleep deprivation and can affect every aspect of life.
Those who have been previously deployed tend to sleep even less, even less than five hours per night. This is significantly less than recommended seven hours for adults.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, American soldiers used to sleep around 5.8 hours per night, while those deployed to Afghanistan slept fewer than seven hours per night.
Even more interestingly, around 15% of Air Force personnel slept less than 4.5 hours. What about Navy service members? They tend to sleep around 5.9 hours on average.
What About Sleep During Training?
Military training sessions are unique, highly intense, and can last for hours, which affects a person’s sleep.
During training sessions, soldiers tend to sleep less than five hours per night, even just around two hours.
Military soldiers and cadets are often wakened up several times during the night for training, which leads to them sleeping only five hours during the week.
Even when they have more free time, like on the weekends, they cannot get more sleep. In fact, getting seven hours of sleep in the military is almost mission impossible.
Do Soldiers Need a Specific Amount Of Sleep?
Soldiers or no soldiers, people need the same amount of sleep like everybody else – some claim that they need even more. This may vary depending on their mission. Adults need in general between seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
Furthermore, people with an intense lifestyle in terms of physical need even more than seven to nine hours of sleep – these people are mostly athletes and service members.
Various studies have shown that soldiers productivity and sleep style are intertwined, and that less sleep reduces their effectiveness in combat up to 25%.
In everyday life, getting a good night’s sleep is crucial – now, just imagine how much a rest and restful night of sleep can mean to military soldiers and beyond. It affects their mental and physical health both in the now and the future.
So, sleep deficiency in the military is to say an every night occurrence, and it’s very hard to affect a different outcome.
Various research has shown that the sleep quality in soldiers is significantly worse than their sleep before deployment.
In fact, some of the most common sleep-related issues that soldiers have to deal with include sleep breathing disorders and movement disorders.
Next to that, they often experience insomnia – in fact, insomnia is most present in those returning from military deployment.
On top of sleep-related issues, soldiers have higher rates of life and job dissatisfaction, depression, and overall negative mental health when compared to the overall working population.
Sleep deficiency is a common occurrence also, and present in the life of almost any veteran. Canadian survey showed that 0% of veterans were diagnosed with at least one physical health condition, 50% reported at least one mental health condition, and almost 70% had between four to six physical and mental health conditions.
What About 24h Operational Tempos?
Civilians are familiar with jobs with night work, but US military operation representatives don’t have a working schedule – they work around the clock.
Their job is ever-changing and 24 operations are a normal thing.
Service members must often engage in mid-night teleconferences and continually switch among 8 time zones, and still manage to perform their daily duties the next day.
In such hard conditions, it’s beyond difficult to obtain a steady sleeping schedule.
Sleep And Psychiatric Disorders
Experts claim that up to 60% of service members are to report sleeping less than 5h per night.
Many factors are leading to this, including sudden operations, heavy shift work, and the comorbidity of psychiatric disorders in service members.
These soldiers mostly suffer from many psychiatric disorders, including depression, PTSD, and even some brain injuries.
A large number of soldiers experience some kind of symptoms, while a smaller number of them do experience specific conditions.
If soldiers have so hectic schedule all the time, when do they sleep, or how do they achieve to nap a bit when the day is busy? Here is how.
Soldiers And Sleep
It’s well-known that soldiers are constantly faced with numerous issues that reflect their physical and mental well-being.
They have to do their best to keep their body and needs in balance, and not to push one or other side more.
One of the most demanding things that they have to deal with is to learn to sleep in stressful and dangerous areas.
Sometimes they have more time to sleep, while on other days they have only a few minutes to get the energy they need.
Simply said, they need to learn how to sleep whenever and wherever they get the chance. They are often exhausted and it helps them have the right sleeping skill.
Here is how they do it and how you can master their sleeping style:
- Start by relaxing the muscles in your face
- Drop your shoulders as far down as they will go
- Breath out and try to relax your chest as much as possible
- Try to spend 10 seconds clearing your mind
- Imagine one of the following: you are lying in a canoe on a calm lake with nothing around you but water and sky; you’re lying in a black velvet hammock in a pitch-black room, or keep telling yourself the following line: “don’t think, don’t think, don’t think” – repeat it for at least 10 seconds and continue repeating until you start feeling as if you are drifting off
This won’t come easily, and you will have to test it for a few nights first. You may not feel any change the first week, and afterward, you might start feeling sleepy.
You can expect the best results around the ninth week. To start, make sure that you create the most sleep-friendly environment possible.
Have the right sleeping temperature, darkroom, and no-sounds around that could disturb your sleep.
From there you can start ignoring any external factors that could keep you away from your sleep. Focus on sleeping fast until you can fall asleep in only a few minutes.
The Bottom Line
Military personnel often experienced sleep deficiency for numerous reasons.
This is a massive problem that only seems to get worse.
Many individuals who work in the military tend to experience regular sleep-related issues, poor health, low-quality habits, and a harder lifestyle overall once they are back home.
It’s no secret that military individuals experience emotional and physical trauma while in service. Luckily, many treatments can help people with military backgrounds sleep better.
It’s important to search for suitable help and et the treatment that’s most effective and delivers the best.
Once the service is done, military individuals need to focus on rebuilding their lives once again and getting a better sleep.