It may seem obvious, but Soldiers need sleep. Sometimes it is more difficult to convince them of this fact than their leadership. Soldiers in many cases seem against getting the ever so important shut eye, and it has a continued detrimental effect on their ability to perform. Leaders at Fort Carson decided to test a way to counter this problem and the results were, well – expected.
Beginning in 2014, leaders at Fort Carson began to make changes. They stopped the practice of having Soldiers come in to work early. Not all branches of the military are the same, and the Army schedule is one that can be confusing to others. Soldiers arrive at work early, often before 0600 to stand in formation before doing organized unit physical training for 60 – 90 minutes. Then they conduct personal hygiene, eat breakfast, and return to work to begin their actual jobs. Many other branches perform individual PT, or focus on their PT at a later hour.
Fort Carson decided to try to push the time to the right, in order to give Soldiers an opportunity to get better sleep. The effects of this can be profound. From the personal standpoint, service members were able to take their kids to school in the morning before showing up at work and still performed PT, they just did it at the end of their day instead of the beginning. They were able to rest or sleep in more, allowing the body to recover from the previous day and ensuring that they were not constantly working in sleep deficit.
In 2016, the study evaluated the overall readiness of the Soldiers involved in the study. The obesity rate on post had reduced to the current 11.1%, lower than most other installations. By performing workouts at the end of the day, they also were generally tired by the time they got home, helping to encourage good sleep habits leading into the next day.
No study is perfect in its result. At Fort Carson, the use of tobacco was documented at more than 37% of Soldiers questioned, compared to the Army’s overall 32%. This is not necessarily an indicator of the program causing this, but it is important to note that changes to levels of usage are likely due to life style or scheduling changes.
Due to the overwhelming number of service members that participated at Fort Carson, this put cars on the road for an additional 20,000 service members during normal civilian commute hours resulting in horrible traffic jams. This is another factor which must be considered, that even though military service may not require a service member to arrive until a specific time to meet an intent, the process of getting to work may nullify any good intentions just by nature of the traffic.
The goal of the study was to determine whether or not simple changes can have positive effects on the underlying sleep deprivation issues within the force. The answer is simple, yes. It is both a productive and helpful step forward to seeking continued solutions, and creating a force that enjoys both a high level of readiness, as well as a high level of happiness amongst its members.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.