Fatigue Guide

LAST UPDATED: August 11, 2020

Poor-quality sleep and inadequate recovery leads to increased fatigue, decreased alertness and impaired performance. Soldiers on difficult missions are many times challenged with fatigue. Here is a calculator to equate the performance impairment caused by fatigue equating to alcohol intoxication, and shows the levels of fatigue producing higher levels of impairment.

Warfighter Cognitive Fatigue Calculator *

Are you green, amber, or 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?

* 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)
  • Unwind and relax: read a book, listen to soft music, meditate or exercise moderately
  • Obtain 7+ hours of sleep every 24 hours, and abstain from caffeine at least 6 hours before bed
  • Ensure sleep area is safe, cool, dark and quiet, and establish a relaxing pre‐sleep routine

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 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
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