IN THIS ARTICLE:
- Keep a regular schedule every night.
- Create a bedtime ritual.
- Be patient.
Military health experts say sleep is just as important to Soldiers’ health as exercise and good nutrition.
Sleep impacts your ability to learn, your memory, and your overall energy level for unit activities and day-to-day life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also finds that not getting an average of seven to nine hours of sleep nightly can put you at increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.
The first step to good sleep health is establishing a bedtime routine. A regular routine makes it easier for anyone to shift from being awake to being asleep.
STAY ON SCHEDULE
Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning—even on the weekends (when you’re not drilling).
It may seem hard at first, especially if you tend to stay up late and sleep in on weekends. Keeping the same sleep schedule every day conditions your body’s internal clock to know when it’s bedtime and respond accordingly. This internal clock controls your sleep cycles.
CREATE A BEDTIME RITUAL
Find a calming routine that helps you wind down, and do it the same way each night.
Some studies have shown that a drop in body temperature will help ease you to sleep faster. To lower your body temperature, try a hot shower or bath. When you are out of the water, your body’s temperature will quickly drop.
Follow the shower with calming activities, such as listening to relaxing music or reading an actual book (not an electronic book, which can affect your body’s internal clock).
Be sure to optimize your sleep space, too. A quiet, dark room with the right bedding can give you a better night’s rest.
GIVE IT TIME
Any habit—good or bad—takes time to develop. Keep at it. Make changes to your routine when you need to, but don’t give up.
- Read the National Sleep Foundation’s healthy sleep tips.
- Curb your anxiety about an upcoming APFT by learning how to rest and relax.
Christian Smelling is a soldier who has been in the tactical flashlight field for nine years. He is an expert in the field and has learned a great deal about how to use tactical flashlights during combat.