Sleep As A Strategy For Optimizing Performance

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    Yarnell AM, Deuster PA 16(1). 81 - 85 (Journal Article)

    Recovery is an essential component of maintaining, sustaining, and optimizing cognitive and physical performance during and after demanding training and strenuous missions. Getting sufficient amounts of rest and sleep is key to recovery. This article focuses on sleep and discusses (1) why getting sufficient sleep is important, (2) how to optimize sleep, and (3) tools available to help maximize sleep-related performance. Insufficient sleep negatively impacts safety and readiness through reduced cognitive function, more accidents, and increased military friendly-fire incidents. Sufficient sleep is linked to better cognitive performance outcomes, increased vigor, and better physical and athletic performance as well as improved emotional and social functioning. Because Special Operations missions do not always allow for optimal rest or sleep, the impact of reduced rest and sleep on readiness and mission success should be minimized through appropriate preparation and planning. Preparation includes periods of "banking" or extending sleep opportunities before periods of loss, monitoring sleep by using tools like actigraphy to measure sleep and activity, assessing mental effectiveness, exploiting strategic sleep opportunities, and consuming caffeine at recommended doses to reduce fatigue during periods of loss. Together, these efforts may decrease the impact of sleep loss on mission and performance.

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