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Schriever Airmen see benefits from 28-day sleep challenge

Infographic that lists five tips to help people get a better night's sleep. 1. Stick to a sleep schedule. 2. Power down from devices. 3. Have a bedtime routine. 4. Make your bedroom dark. 5. Keep your room temperature cool.

These five tips, courtesy of Air Force Materiel Command, can help Airmen sleep more restfully. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Marcus Hill)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

With the myriad of tasks required of Airmen each day, getting adequate sleep proves challenging, but that doesn’t make it any less important to get the proper amount of rest.

The 28-day sleep challenge, hosted by the 21st Medical Squadron, took place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 30 and illustrated several ways to improve sleep habits and how to get appropriate rest.

“It teaches Airmen the basics of sleep hygiene and gives them tools to improve their sleep on their own,” said Carol Carr, 21st Medical Squadron Health Promotion coordinator. “Sleep is an ongoing issue in society and the Air Force. Poor sleep leads to poor health and performance. The goal of this sleep challenge is to take the time to stop and focus on sleep so one can create healthy sleep habits.”

Carr said some Airmen reported the challenge was useful.

“Thus far we have piloted it in the 21st, MDS and from surveys saw increased knowledge on how to optimize sleep and improvements in length of time spent sleeping (at least seven hours is recommended and this was achieved by most),” Carr said. “We hope to see further data and impacts next quarter when more data is analyzed.”

Sleep deprivation not only impacts people short term, it also affects health in the long term.  

Lt. Col. Timothy Ryan, 4th Space Operation Squadron commander, realizes how sleep deprivation influences Airmen and continues to work to balance their sleep schedules.

“Starting Oct. 1, we adjusted our crew schedule,” Ryan said. “Each crew is working a 60-day rotation on the same schedule. After 60 days, they rotate to the next shift and we are doing this in six-month increments.” 

Ryan understands providing a stable and predictable schedule improves the crew’s focus and ability do their work accurately.

“The goal is to provide the crew’s stabilization in their sleep schedule, as well as their personal schedule,” Ryan said. “This is providing a predictable and repeatable schedule for the operators during their space mission force rotation. This is backed by the Human Performance Wing report and the Iron Project report (conducted at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.) that stated the crew’s sleep schedule is optimized when they are pulling the same shift for at least 30 days straight.” 

While Ryan doesn’t currently information about 4th SOPS crew schedule changes, Carr said additional information for the 28-day sleep challenge will be available soon.

“We do not have full data yet to show its long-term benefits, but Airmen reported better quality sleep post intervention,” Carr said. “This is especially important for shift workers who already had struggles with sleep.”

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