FE WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. —
Driving while fatigued causes 100,000 crashes annually in the US, with 71,000 injuries and more than 1,500 fatalities resulting from these accidents. Additionally, sleep problems are a contributing factor in workplace accidents and a survey from the National Safety Council found that 43% of workers are not getting enough sleep, and that lack of sleep can lead to safety mishaps and injuries – or even death.
To help educate Mighty Ninety Airmen on the dangers of fatigue in the workplace and while driving, several events were scheduled across base during Sleep Week, the week of March 14-18, on FE Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.
“Military personnel shift workers are 36% more likely than the average American to not get the recommended daily sleep,” said Maj. Danielle Tuttle, Deputy Director of Safety and Nuclear Surety at 20th Air Force. “Yet, it is even more crucial for our Airmen to get a good night’s sleep, due to their massive responsibilities to nuclear deterrence and surety.”
Being well rested is a crucial aspect of overall health and wellbeing, and though it can be a challenge with a military schedule to get a full night’s sleep regularly, it is crucially important for personnel to keep a sleep schedule that supports what their body needs – for their own safety and for the safety of others.
“Healthy rest is crucial to ensuring healthy Airmen,” said Alison Morrell, 90th Missile Wing Health Promotion Coordinator. “When our Airmen are not properly rested, they are risk for the negative and potentially dangerous effects of fatigue, like workplace accidents, missed work days, decreased productivity and increased health risks, to name a few.”
The Air Force has recognized fatigue and sleep deprivation as a major concern for the wellbeing of Airmen as well as a cause of mission failure, which has helped drive the push toward increasing awareness across the service.
“The Air Force has taken steps in recent years to impress the importance of good sleep upon the troops, as fatigue related productivity cost up to $2000 per person per year and long-term health complications. It has the Air Force’s attention, yet mission requirements can often mean long work hours and shift work,” said Tuttle. “However, it remains critical for leaders to ensure their troops can get at least seven hours of quality sleep a night to combat the effects of sleep deprivation on those troops, and by extension, their mission.”
Though the events were held throughout Sleep Week to raise awareness, there are opportunities on base throughout the year to learn more about healthy rest habits.
“There are resources available within the Health Promotion office to help provide Airmen with tips to get a better night’s sleep,” said Morrell. “A few things members can start incorporating right away would be to have an environment conducive to healthy sleep. Examples of this would be to darken the room, avoid caffeine five hours or screen time at least two hours before going to bed.”
Though it can be difficult to balance job requirements, life needs and the sleep required for good health, there are several tips that experts give to help maintain that balance.