A new program called RESTORE is in the works to help special operators manage sleep better. Using a mix of commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) products, researchers will study effects on college student volunteers. Mix in some technology in the form of computer algorithms, and the stage is set for better overall sleep habits.


RESTORE the Ability to Sleep

RESTORE stands for Restorative and Efficient Sleep Technologies for Optimizing Resiliency and Effectiveness. USSOCOM awarded Aptima, Inc. a $1.29 million contract to develop the program, which aims at better understanding and optimizing sleep in the special operations community.

Long have people known that sleep deprivation is bad for you. As far back as 4,000BC, civilizations were already looking at medicinal herbs for sleep. The study of sleep, how it affects everyday life, and how to control it are all big business nowadays. Melatonin as a sleep aid was patented in 1995, but doctors were using depressants and barbiturates for years before that. 

hours of sleep in military
Getting optimal sleep is key to optimal Soldier performance and a ready and resilient Total Force. Just one sleepless night (less than four hours) can impair performance as much as a 0.10 percent blood-alcohol level. (Photo illustration by Graham Snodgrass/U.S. Army Public Health Center)

The problem with using drugs for sleep is the side-effects. How long will the drug stay in your system? Does it come with drowsiness after waking? And the big one: is it habit-forming? No branch of the military wants its members to be addicts. Many in uniform don’t want to take drugs, either. Hopefully, RESTORE can gather enough information to develop better ways to get to sleep, stay asleep, and have more restful sleep.


Phase One and Two

The program is broken into two phases. The first, already underway, is testing available sleep-monitoring devices, sleep studies, and self-reported sleep habits. Aptima is using college students during phase one, gathering data in at least three separate studies. Once phase one is complete, researchers will move on to special operators. 

Researchers plan to ask operators a series of questions to determine sleep habits, remedies, and patterns. The research team wants to know personal habits like caffeine and alcohol use, dietary and exercise habits, and how well individual operators rest. Also, researchers will measure how special operators perform, determined by more questions about their abilities in the field. Researchers want to know how sleep habits affect real-time operations as well as cognitive abilities after the fact.