The U.S. Army Prioritizes Sleep for Soldiers

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

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 anxiety

The Army has adopted 7-8 hours in a 24-hour period as their sleep recommendation, but many solders get only 6 hours of sleep or less. Sleep loss impairs their decision making, judgment, ability to assess threats, and coordinate tactics. To establish a healthy foundation of sleep before, during, and after deployment, the Army recommends soldiers adopt good sleep practices, such as:

  • Setting target bedtimes and backing up by 30 – 60 minutes to start a bedtime routine.
  • Making the bedroom “sleep friendly”—cool, dark, and quiet.
  • Creating an appealing bedtime routine.
  • Not drinking caffeine before bed.
  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
  • Retiring the electronics before bed.
  • Using earplugs or white noise to block sounds and a sleep mask or black out curtains or shakes to block light.

Sleep is increasingly seen as a core component of health. The Army’s is adopting the latest science and clinical wisdom around sleep—calling it a “secret weapon.”