Sleep is vital for health, performance, and wellbeing � and the better the sleep, the greater its benefits. That is why healthy sleep habits, that promote optimal sleep duration and quality, are important for everyone.
As a Civilian you most likely have a �to do� list a mile long, which can make finding time for activity tough. Fortunately, there is no right or wrong way to be physically active, as some activity is always better than none at all.
Your health is critical to the wellbeing of your family. The more active you are, the more likely your kids will follow suit. Children and adolescents (ages 6-17) need at least:
60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day
11,000 steps for girls and 13,000 steps for boys each day
3 days of muscle strengthening physical activity per week
Physical activity is more than just �exercise� or �working out�- it�s living an active lifestyle. Whether it�s walking the dog, doing yard work, or playing with your kids, regular movement throughout the day inspires positive health outcomes over time.
- Lowers risk of some chronic diseases and conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and cancer (e.g. breast, colon)
- Aids in weight loss and prevents weight gain
- Helps manage stress and may reduce depression
- Strengthens bones, muscles, and joints
- Boosts confidence and self-esteem
Research shows family meals promote healthier eating and give families time to talk, listen, and build relationships. Children who eat with their families are better nourished, maintain a healthier weight, have better grades, and are less likely to smoke, drink, or use marijuana. Eating together helps improve connections to one another.
Sleep is a biological need for brain function and is critical for sustaining the mental abilities required for success on the battlefield. Soldiers require 7�8 hours of high quality sleep every 24-hour period
to sustain operational readiness.
When Leaders and Soldiers do not get enough sleep, their performance suffers � putting themselves and fellow Soldiers at risk for committing errors that lead to accidents and mishaps. Insufficient sleep is a threat to mission success.
The so-called �adrenaline rush� during combat or training does not compensate for insufficient sleep. A sleep-deprived Soldier might transpose digits while entering coordinates into a fire-control system or administer the wrong dose or even the wrong medication. More generally, a sleep-deprived Soldier might make wrong tactical decisions. For these reasons, Leaders must prioritize sleep for their Soldiers and themselves.
Common combat tasks impaired by insufficient sleep include (but are not limited to):
- Detecting and appropriately determining threat level
- Requesting indirect fire
- Coordinating squad tactics
- Integrating range cards
Insufficient sleep also impairs one�s ability to self-monitor. Leaders and Soldiers overestimate their own proficiency under such conditions. This is, in part, because insufficient sleep impairs the brain�s fundamental ability to function efficiently � a physiological change that cannot be overcome by motivation, initiative, willpower or caffeine.
The demanding nature of military operations often creates situations in which obtaining enough sleep on a regular basis is difficult or impossible. Such chronic, insufficient sleep (anything less than 7�8 hours per 24 hours) produces a sleep debt
� a chronic state of sleep need that is characterized by impaired performance and readiness. The rate at which the sleep debt (and performance deficits) grows depends upon how much nightly sleep is restricted. The only way to eliminate the debt is to obtain sleep.
This figure shows the relationship between hours of sleep per night and performance. You can use this chart to gauge the impact of nightly sleep duration on performance. As shown, anything less than 7-8 hours of good-quality sleep per 24 hours negatively impacts performance � impairment increases as nightly sleep duration decreases.
With 7-8 hours of sleep per 24 hours, Soldiers sustain optimal performance for the entire waking day (Green zone)
. When Soldiers get less than 7-8 hours sleep, performance degrades over time. Getting 4-6 hours of sleep every 24 hours will keep Soldiers in the Amber zone
for several days, then they fall into the Red zone.
Getting less than 4 hours of sleep guarantees that Soldiers immediately fall into the Amber Zone
and quickly progress into the Red Zone
Less than 5% of Soldiers can sustain performance on less than 7-8 hours sleep per 24 hours. If a Leader is in this 5% group, it may be difficult to understand that most Soldiers are not in this group and to foster a unit environment where 7-8 hours is considered normal.