Commentary: The Army has a sleep problem. Here’s how to fix it

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NCO Journal staff report

Army Maj. Jeff Jager and Former Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Kennedy say the Army has a sleep deprivation problem in a commentary published in the Army Times.

“Studies show sleep deprivation offers effects equal to drinking alcohol, and continued lack of sleep has the potential of being even more deadly,” Jager and Kennedy write. “We would never allow a drunken Soldier to lead an ambush, so why do we consider it acceptable or even admirable to send one with lack of sleep into life-threatening situations?

“The Army’s culture of sleep deprivation begins during basic training, although the Center for Initial Military Training has taken steps recently to incorporate additional sleep into the platform,” the continued. “It continues through the first unit of assignment, where we interrupt sleep with training and other duties until going without rest becomes ingrained in our Soldiers.”

Jager and Kennedy note that the Army is attempting to address sleep problems with its Performance Triad, but a survey they conducted of active-duty and reserve-component Soldiers found that nearly 42 percent had never heard of the triad and that 18 percent didn’t agree with it. They offer some suggestions for fixing the military’s sleep deprivation problems, including raising awareness and enforcing sleep standards.

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