It’s not uncommon for members of the military who are on deployment or even home after deployment to have a variety of sleep problems. New research shows us that treating those sleep problems can help alleviate symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
Scientists at the RAND Corporation surveyed more than 2,000 married service members from all branches of the military. They found that about one-third of service members reported getting five hours or less of sleep per night, which is much less than the recommended amount of sleep for adults. Moreover, about half of service members had sleep problems, as revealed by their responses to a sleep questionnaire. The general population reports in similar surveys that about one-third one-third have sleep problems.
About 33 percent of service members reported being fatigued at least three or four times a week, and 17 percent said that their sleep problems interfered with their daytime activities.
There was little difference in terms of sleep issues between those who had and had not deployed, but those with more combat experience were more likely to report poorer sleep quality.
There was also a link between sleep problems and an increased risk of depression, PTSD, poorer physical health and lower readiness to function in an operational setting, the researchers said.
The researchers recommended that the military improve screening for sleep disturbance, and develop guidelines for doctors on how to identify and treat sleep disorders in the military.