Introduction to Sleep

LAST UPDATED: October 23, 2017

Why is sleep important?

Sleep is a biological need for brain function. Soldiers require 7–8 hours of quality sleep every 24-hours to maintain their mental edge. When Soldiers do not get enough sleep, their mental acuity suffers—putting themselves and fellow Soldiers at risk for making errors that lead to accidents and mishaps. Insufficient sleep is a safety risk and a threat to mission success.

Getting enough quality sleep helps to maintain your physical and psychological health, quality of life, and safety. Sleep is the only time when the brain can recover from the wear and tear of daily life—the brain cannot recover during wakefulness, even if you are resting.

Your brain needs sleep to restore and repair, grow new brain connections to work efficiently, form memories and process new information. So prioritize sleep when planning training or when learning a new skill or task. Sleeping well before learning will help with attention and understanding; Sleeping well after learning, will improve your ability to both remember and use the newly-acquired skills and information.

Performance benefits of sleep

  • Concentration
  • Attention
  • Health
  • Mood
  • Judgment
  • Creativity
  • Productivity

The amount of sleep that adults need varies according to age and genes inherited. Most adults need 7–8 hours of sleep every 24 hours. Very few people can perform optimally on less than 7–8 hours.

Soldiers overestimate their own proficiency with insufficient sleep. In part, this is because insufficient sleep impairs the brain's fundamental ability to function efficiently–Soldiers cannot overcome this physiological change by motivation, initiative, willpower or caffeine.

You are sleep deprived if:

  • You fall asleep immediately upon going to bed
  • You fall asleep during routine low stimulus activity such as driving
  • You need an alarm to wake you up
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