AASM member Col. Vincent Mysliwiec, MD, recently discussed with the Army News Service how the quality of a soldier’s sleep has a direct bearing on their readiness. He noted that despite the medically proven linkage between sleep and readiness, all too often sleep is viewed as a luxury by some soldiers.
The article also described common sleep problems among soldiers, including “fire watch duty” and sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Mysliwiec noted that he recently briefed Gen. Robert B. Abrams, commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, on the topic of sleep health.
To draw attention to the high prevalence of sleep problems among soldiers and veterans, the AASM drafted a House of Representatives resolution (H. Res. 46), which was recently introduced in the 115th Congress. The resolution’s lead sponsor is Republican Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO-6), and it is co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN-1), Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. [D-GA-2], Rep. Peter J. Roskam [R-IL-6], and Rep. Scott H. Peters [D-CA-52].
The purpose of the resolution is to:
- Raise public awareness of obstructive sleep apnea, especially for U.S. soldiers and veterans
- Support access to care for soldiers and veterans who have a sleep illness such as obstructive sleep apnea
- Encourage soldiers and veterans to seek and maintain healthy sleep habits both during and after active duty
- Promote continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy as a viable treatment for sleep apnea in patients with PTSD
Research suggests that the prevalence of sleep apnea is higher among veterans than in the general population. A recent study of younger veterans of U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan found that 69 percent were at high risk for sleep apnea. CPAP therapy is an effective treatment for sleep apnea, and research suggests that CPAP also reduces PTSD-associated nightmares and improves overall PTSD symptoms in veterans with co-morbid sleep apnea. According to the National Center for PTSD, up to 20 percent of U.S. veterans have PTSD in a given year.