Poor-quality sleep and inadequate recovery leads to increased fatigue, reduced alertness and impaired performance. Soldiers are often challenged by fatigue. Here is a calculator that compares the performance effects of sleep loss with those of alcohol.
Warfighter Cognitive Fatigue Calculator *
red ? Your next step depends on your color.
Use the drop downs to answer the three questions below to find out how sleep is affecting your performance and actions to take.
About how many hours of sleep do you get daily?
About what is the current time?
About how many hours have you been awake?
GREEN - Soldier on! You are ready to perform.
Your performance is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.00-0.03.
AMBER - You are compromised and need to get quality sleep, as soon as possible. If the mission does not allow for immediate sleep, drink 12 oz. coffee OR chew two sticks of caffeine gum OR take the longest nap possible. If you are going to drive - exercise extreme care.
Your performance is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.04-0.07.
RED - Get some sleep immediately. You are at risk of drowsiness, irritability, memory lapses, illness and potentially fatal errors. Do not drive. Find an alternative for driving to a different location.
Your performance is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.08-0.11.
* This calculator offers an estimate of how sleep loss can impair performance based on group statistics. This is not for use as an individualized model.
Main Points to Recover from Sustained Operations by:
- Sleep banking sleep prior to missions will help (if possible)
- Prepare for sleep by relaxing and unwinding: In the 30-60 minutes before bed, read a book, listen to soft music, meditate. exercise moderately, or take a warm shower.
- Obtain 7+ hours of sleep every 24 hours, and abstain from caffeine for at least 6 hours before bed
- Ensure sleep area is safe, cool, dark and quiet.
Fueling (Nutrition and hydration)
- Eat breakfast and 8 servings of fruits and vegetables daily
- Eat nutritious foods 30‐60 minutes after exercise for refueling and repair
- Drink water regularly for optimal hydration and performance
- Get at least 150 minutes of cardio and two days of resistance training every week
- Avoid strenuous exercise for at least 2 hours prior to bedtime
Main Points to include for Leaders:
- Look for signs of sleepiness such as delayed reaction time, irritability, stress, and fatigue
- Designate separate sleep areas for Soldiers on day, evening and night shifts
- Interact with soldiers and encourage junior leaders to communicate the importance of healthy sleep, activity, and nutrition behaviors
Dawson, D., Reid, K. Fatigue, alcohol and performance impairment. Nature 388, 235 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1038/40775