Original published by Van Winkle's, a new website dedicated to smarter sleep & wakefulness, published by Casper.
As we’ve reported at length, sleep deprivation is one of the largest and most untreated medical issues facing our armed forces. While it’s common sense that proper rest is paramount for soldiers who need to be ready to fight at any moment, grueling watch shifts, a “sleep is for the weak” mentality and other factors make a good night’s shut-eye a near impossibility for servicemen and -women. Sleep disorders disrupt their lives, leading to, among other things, worse PTSD.
The Army Surgeon General’s office has released the 2015 “Health of the Force Report,” which provides an overview of the health of active-duty soldiers across 29 U.S.-based installations. Per Army Times, the report marks the first time the Army has attempted to “review, prioritize and share best health practices at an installation level.” It considers a number of issues, including chronic disease, behavioral health, tobacco use and sleep disorders.
Unsurprisingly, sleep struggles were widely reported.
As part of the reporting, each base was given an Installation Health Index, calculated from a “performance triad” of statistics: sleep, physical activity and nutrition. “No installations reached the current targeted score of 85 or above out of 100 possible points on sleep, activity or nutrition,” the report notes. This means that 102,500 soldiers, either active or in the National Guard or Army Reserve, are non-deployable. That’s roughly 10 percent of the entire army.
According to U.S. Army Surgeon General Lieutenant General Patricia D. Horoho, the report is meant to enhance “health readiness by ensuring the Total Force has the required physical, emotional, and cognitive health and fitness to win in environments that are complex, unknown, and constantly changing.”
Other key findings:
The average sleep score was 67 out of 100.
In compiling their report, researchers considered sleep duration, sleep satisfaction and being bothered by poor sleep. Texas' Fort Hood had the lowest score, earning 64.3 out 100.
Ten percent of soldiers are diagnosed with a sleep disorder.
And 62 percent sleep less than seven hours per night.
Five percent of soldiers are prescribed sleep medications.
This makes them less likely to be deployed.
78,000 active-duty soldiers are clinically obese.
That is, they have a BMI of 30 or higher.
Five percent of soldiers fail the Army Physical Test each year.
This, too, deems them unfit for combat.
43,000 active-duty soldiers are non-deployable due to their medical profiles.
Be it for underlying health issues or failure to pass physical exams.
15 percent of soldiers have been diagnosed with a behavioral health disorder
Again, making them less deployable.
While alarming, this assessment should be seen as a list of problems that can be solved. If we're truly concerned about the well-being of our servicemen and -women, let this report be the first step toward training and deploying a healthier fighting force.