Sleep, Readiness Go Hand in Hand
By David Vergun

The quality of soldiers’ sleep has a direct bearing on readiness, according to an Army researcher.

Despite the medically proven linkage between sleep and readiness, all too often sleep is viewed as a luxury by some soldiers, Army Col. (Dr.) Vincent Mysliwiec said.

Mysliwiec provided some tips on getting a good night’s sleep, which he said will result in increased productivity at work, as well as a reduction in injuries, errors and accidents.

Many soldiers already know they should be getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night, but more than half of them probably get six or less, he said. And many are unaware that the time they go to sleep can be just as important as how long they sleep, he added, noting that soldiers tend to shift their sleep patterns on weekends, going to bed much later and waking up much later than on weekdays because of their military requirements.

That shifting of sleep times throws off the circadian rhythm, the body’s biological clock, he said. If the circadian rhythm is askew, fitful sleep or even a sleep disorder could result.

A shift of one hour probably won’t throw off the circadian rhythm — say going to bed at 10 p.m. and waking at 6 a.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekends. But a shift more dramatic than that could cause problems.

A note of interest: Travelers flying from the West Coast to the East Coast often report difficulties sleeping because of the three hours lost during the time zone shift, he added. Flying the other way has less of an impact.

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Photo courtesy of US Army