The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on the U.S. Navy

USS John McCain Collision Damage | The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on the US Navy | Fleet Sheets
The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on the U.S. Navy
“Sleep is an investment in the energy you need to be effective tomorrow”
-Tom Roth-
USS Fitzgerald – US Navy Photo

 

The Silent Threat We are Finally Talking About

Anyone that has served in any branch of the military knows that it's normal to hear the words, “I am tired.”  This is especially so for those that serve on a ship deployed out to sea. Navy Sailors' lack of sleep, unfortunately, can cost lives. The collision between the USS John S. McCain and a commercial ship while off of the near Horsburgh Lighthouse in 2017 is just such an example. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (Home (ntsb.gov)) conducted their report and cited that sleep deprivation to be a factor in decision-making capabilities onboard.  Unfortunately for everyone, this cost multiple Sailors their lives and injured dozens of others. 

USS McCain – Joshua Fulton

 It Can Happen Again If We Don’t Make the Change

 According to an article written by the Insider (Sleep Deprivation Is a Silent Threat to the Navy Related to Accidents (businessinsider.com)), there were four different groundings and collisions in less than a year in the 7th Fleet.  Both the USS McCain, mentioned above, and then also the USS Fitzgerald pictured below.  Both incidents had Sailors citing sleep deprivation as the main cause of misjudgment.   

 

            Reddit

The Pentagon Report

The Pentagon completed a new report in March 2021 and stated that in the United States, 37 percent of people regulatory don’t get their recommended amount of sleep.  What’s surprising—or maybe NOT—is that this number raises to 76 percent for military personnel! 

The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7 to 9 hours (Impact of Sleep Deprivation on the U.S. Navy - MilitarySpot.com).  According to Kirsten Diller puts it, “The lack of sleep impairs attention, reasoning, and problem solving.”  Without the proper amount of sleep, these abilities go out the window and continuous sleep deprivation can create disorders that will follow a Sailor for life. 

 

The Hope is There

The Navy fleet has a new set of policies that has a new approach to sleep by creating a culture that is rested and ready to perform.  The Comprehensive Crew Endurance Management Policy was signed December 11, 2020 by Naval Surface Force Pacific and Naval Surface Force Atlantic (Latest Surface Navy Sleep Policy Aims for Better-Rested, More Alert, Healthier Crews - USNI News).  The new policy takes a holistic approach to tackling fatigue and suggests napping, sleep hygiene (see below), physical activity, and better nutrition. 

Sleep Hygiene

Yes, even sleep has recommended sleep hygiene!  Good sleep habits can help you with getting a good night’s sleep.  Here are some tips recommended by the CDC to get you started (CDC - Sleep Hygiene Tips - Sleep and Sleep Disorders):

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time, including the weekends
  • Make sure where you are sleeping is quiet, dark, relaxing, and comfortable temperatures
  • Remove electronic devices from the area
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime
  • Get exercise on a regular basis! Being physical during the day can help you fall asleep at night

Get comfortable in your bed…or rack! 

Here at Fleet Sheets (Navy & Coast Guard Rack Sheets & Products | Fleet Sheets), we know that it can be hard to be comfortable while out to sea.  The berthing is tight, the racks are small, and the mattresses are thin.  With a little bit of effort and help from us, you can turn this:

 

…into this:

 

 

 

 For the full inventory, please check out our website at Navy & Coast Guard Rack Sheets & Products | Fleet Sheets

***Written by Teresa Calhoun***
July 2022

 

 

 

 

 

 


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