Increase the Use of Technology for Assessing and Clinically Managing Sleep Disorders

Subjective self-identification of sleepiness and sleep disorders through brief screening surveys may not provide a useful index of a servicemember's ability to perform effectively or safely. A more promising approach than simply asking individuals about their sleep disturbances would be to use objective techniques to monitor sleep. This could be accomplished through the use of technology for monitoring sleep and alertness to help individuals monitor sleep behaviors and detect sleep problems early, before they become chronic or debilitating. There are numerous commercial off-the-shelf tools, such as wristwatches, wristbands, and other devices, that military personnel could use to monitor their sleep/rest cycles; however, these instruments need to be validated before broader dissemination is recommended. The use of telehealth strategies may also facilitate dissemination efforts; again, more research is needed on their efficacy and safety, particularly for individuals with comorbid conditions. Developing and validating assessment tools to facilitate self-identification of sleep problems could also facilitate self-monitoring of healthy sleep behaviors and could identify sleep problems in the early stages, when they may be more amenable to treatment. Recognizing behaviors through self-assessment and education may help both servicemembers and military leadership initiate healthier sleep practices and reduce maladaptive behaviors, such as the use of alcohol or sedatives, prior to the onset of long-term sleep problems.

Continue to Research Evidenced-Based Practices for Advancing Healthy Sleep in Military Settings

We recommend creating a dedicated research agenda aimed at improving the evidence base for advancing best practices and for evaluating existing programs and validating current and emerging technologies for assessing, treating, and monitoring sleep issues, specifically in military populations, because operational constraints may limit the efficacy or feasibility of strategies developed for civilian populations. Robust RCTs within military settings are also greatly needed to establish best-practice guidelines for treating servicemembers and veterans specifically. There is also a need for further research to evaluate the efficacy of innovative and promising treatment techniques that may fill treatment delivery gaps and be preferred by servicemembers, such as video teletherapy, therapies delivered through mobile technology, and CAM techniques (e.g., meditation).

 
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