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Military Operational Issues and Sleep Problems

Sleep is a basic human need that is critical to both physical and mental health. Sleep allows the brain to form new memories and helps the body recover from stress and injury. Not getting enough sleep or sleeping poorly can have many potential consequences that affect our professional and personal well-being, including:

  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Irritability
  • Attention problems
  • Decreased ability to make decisions
  • Low mood
  • Increased likelihood of mistakes
  • Memory problems
  • Stress
  • Illness due to reduced immune system functioning
  • Lower pain tolerance

For military service members, operational issues can sometimes contribute to sleep difficulties. The stress of a high ops tempo and increased responsibility can make it difficult to get enough high-quality sleep. Some duties may also interfere with the body's natural 24-hour cycle, called the circadian rhythm, which helps the body determine when to sleep.

Sleep problems can often be improved by practicing effective sleep habits, but if they persist or interfere with daily life and work, it's important to seek evaluation and treatment by a provider.