A Well Rested Warfighter is an Effective Warfighter

By Navy Capt. Elizabeth Montcalm-Smith, program manager, Advanced Medical Development Program,  Naval Medical Research Center

Most people think of medical research as scientists in white coats in a lab with test tubes and microscopes developing a new vaccine to cure one of the world’s major infectious diseases like malaria and dengue fever. The work I do represents the other end of the spectrum that covers advanced research and testing. We look for solutions for the service member by improving existing mature technology that can be adapted to meet warfighter requirements and is easily produced and affordable.  A great example is the Warfighter Sleep Kits — a product being field-tested now.

Daily stress, shift work and other distractions can make it difficult to get the recommended eight hours of sleep a night. The sleep kits were created in response to a compelling need to do more sleep education for our deployed Sailors and Marines. The Warfighter Sleep Kit includes facts and information to educate service members on the impact of sleep in regards to mission effectiveness and tools and techniques to help get adequate sleep. Short term effects of inadequate sleep include decreased coordination and motor skills, inability to concentrate, impaired learning and decreased ability for decision-making. Long term effects of inadequate sleep can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

The sleep kit contains the following:

  • A pocket-sized guide containing essential facts on sleep
  • A sleep mask to help block environmental light
  • Ear plugs to help block ambient noise
  • An interactive DVD that includes:
    • AMMO Lite – a personal “sleep diary” that allows the user to estimate his/her operational readiness based on a sleep schedule
    • A Sleep Assessment Program that helps identify common sleep issues, with tools that may help resolve the issues
    • Warrior Mind Training videos – progressive relaxation and behavioral techniques to assist in falling asleep
    • Information on shift work, the physiology of sleep and more.

The kit is sponsored by the Naval Medical Research Center, Silver Spring, Md.,  as part of the Comprehensive Alertness Management in Military Operations initiative from the Defense Safety Oversight Council. 

For more information on the Naval Medical Research Center contact http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmrc/Pages/index.htm