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Department of the Army Operational Policies/Programs

We identified operational policies related to sleep management in the Army that provide comprehensive sleep guidelines for leaders and soldiers. Army Field Manual (FM) 6-22.5 provides a basic framework for leaders and soldiers to understand the implications and ways to mitigate the negative consequences of sleep deprivation in the operational environment (Headquarters, U.S. Department of the Army, 2009). It is applicable to both the tactical and training environments and includes pre-deploуment, deployment, pre-combat, combat, and post-combat timeframes and is not specific to a certain occupational field. This manual states that seven to eight hours of quality sleep is required in every 24-hour period and debunks the myth that four hours of sleep is sufficient for soldiers, or that there is even a minimum level of sleep that is acceptable below the prescribed seven to eight hours. The manual describes the operational effects of sleep deprivation and lists some of the indications of sleep deprivation that a leader may be able to recognize in soldiers or in him- or herself. If an individual or unit cannot achieve seven to eight hours of sleep because of operational constraints, the manual offers strategies to recover sleep, such as a series of naps. The manual also provides tips for leaders on how to plan and manage sleep schedules and offers recommendations for managing sleep debt for short durations, including the limited use of caffeine stimulants, if required.

The Leader's Guide to Crew Endurance, published by the U.S. Army's Aeromedical Research Laboratory, offers very useful information that is similar to what is found in FM 6-22.5 (Headquarters, U.S. Department of the Army 2009). However, it is dated (1997), and the information provided about acceptable sleep hours is somewhat inconsistent with what is provided in FM 6-22.5. Although the Leader's Guide to Crew Endurance does state that optimal sleep for adults is seven to nine hours per night, it also indicates that as little as four hours of sleep per night may be acceptable for short durations up to one week without major performance degradation (U.S. Army Aero-medical Research Laboratory and U.S. Army Safety Center, 1997). Rest or sleep plans may be part of an operational risk matrix, which is used when conducting most operations or field training.

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