Sleep Disorders In The Military: Sleep Apnea, Insomnia, Short Sleep Reported Among Active-Duty Soldiers

Sleep apnea and insomnia are two of the most common sleep disorders reported among U.S. soldiers with sleep problems, according to a new study in the journal Sleep.

The study, conducted by researchers from the Madigan Healthcare System, examined the kinds of sleep disorders prevalent among active-duty members of the military, as well as the average number of hours of sleep soldiers with these disorders get each night.

The study included 726 soldiers, most of whom were men, who had some sort of sleep disorder, as well as a control group of soldiers without diagnosed sleep disorders. Among the soldiers with sleep disorders, 27.2 percent had mild obstructive sleep apnea, 24.7 percent had insomnia and 24 percent had moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea.

Researchers also found that the average amount of time the soldiers spent sleeping each night was 5.74 hours -- far below the recommended amount of seven to nine hours from the National Sleep Foundation.

The "study provides a unique insight into the growing body of evidence linking sleep disorders, and more specifically, insomnia and service-related illnesses that frequently occur in military personnel who have deployed in Overseas Contingency Operations," the researchers wrote.

"The dramatic self-report of SSD [short sleep duration] in our cohort is consistent with prior studies and suggests the need for a cultural change toward appropriate sleep practices throughout the military," they added.

Sleep deprivation has been linked with weight problems and obesity, inflammation, issues with the immune system and even stroke.

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