Sleepless In Combat


Rail Load Team, Fort Hood, Texas

Rail Load Team, Fort Hood. Photo by SGT Saenz, Eugenio Jr.

How To Sleep Better

When I was deployed, it was hard getting sleep. There were areas where it was just impossible to catch a nap. Then there were those times when I would just fallout like I’d been awake for days, I’d even fall asleep standing in those long chow lines.

I knew that if I was going to get any sleep I would have to create an environment to catch some much-needed Zzzz’s. If I had not made the effort I would not have been mentally in tip-top shape to make good decisions or concentrate when I would need it the most. I did not want my fatigue lead to errors while doing simple things, forgetting what I said or being a leader of poor judgement.

I finally managed to get sleep while deployed back then in an area where we were assigned small storage containers to temporarily live in. If I didn’t set an alarm or have a wake up call I would’ve slept all day. Reason, there were no windows, this  created a pitch black room when I’d close the door and turn off the lights.

Sure, you may think I couldn’t use all of the following tips, like avoiding disturbing noises because of the mortars being lobbed over our barriers. Thank goodness we were issued earplugs, which honestly, didn’t help all that much.

Fast forward a few years, I’m not sleeping any better, so I decided to do a little research and was able to find some good information that can help anyone in any situation. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the following can be useful to combat your sleep:

  • Use the bed and bedroom for sleep and sex only. Do not spend time in bed during the day.
  • Establish a regular bedtime routine and a regular sleep-wake schedule.
  • Think positively about your sleeping—try not to get anxious just because you are losing a little sleep.
  • Do not eat or drink too much close to bedtime.
  • Create a sleep-promoting environment that is dark, cool, and comfortable.
  • Avoid disturbing noises—consider a bedside fan or white-noise machine to block out disturbing sounds.
  • Consume less or no caffeine, particularly late in the day.
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine, especially close to bedtime.
  • Exercise, but not within 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid naps, particularly in the late afternoon or evening.

If I don’t hear from you I’ll assume you’re sleeping.

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