Disasters & Impact of Sleep Quality and Quantity on National Guard Medical Personnel

Disasters & Impact of Sleep Quality and Quantity on National Guard Medical Personnel


Name: Denise Smart

Rank: Lt Col (ret)

Presenter/Poster: Podium

Year: 2018


This longitudinal, prospective study utilized self-reported sleep health histories, actigraphy data, & critical skills assessments at 3 points in time. This project investigated the extent of sleep deprivation in National Guard medical personnel from two separate Air Force Bases (AFBs) responding to simulated disaster training exercises. The overall mission of the U.S. Air and Army National Guard (NG) is to respond to chemical, biological, nuclear, radiologic and natural disaster and emergency events. NG medical personnel work and live in nonmilitary settings with obligations of 2 days a month and 2-4 weeks a year for disaster training. High-intensity simulated disaster training exercises are used to prepare guardsman for mission capability. Seventy-seven Air National Guard members participated in this research demonstrating the prevalence and extent of sleep deprivation along with its impact on military personnel’s performance during simulated disaster training exercises. Findings suggest slower response times for questions sent in the evening compared to questions sent in the morning and across days of training exercises (F-statistic (df1,This longitudinal, prosp df2)=10.35(1,168); p-value=0.0016). Response times (in seconds) on Day 1 of a four-day exercise in the morning (8:00 a.m.) compared to evening (8:00 pm), respectively, were [mean (standard deviation)]: 34 (29) versus 51 (59). Corresponding response times on Day 3 were: 35 (26) versus 65 (60). Accuracy declined for questions sent later in the day compared to questions sent earlier in the morning, although the decline was not consistent across the days of the training exercise (F-statistic (df1, df2)=0.45 (1,169); p-value=0.5010). Actigraphy measures of sleep and self-reported sleepiness at the time of completion of each question were not statistically associated with slower responses or accuracy. However, at least one-third of the participants reported being very sleepy on the morning of Day 1. By the end of each day, nearly two-thirds of the participants reported being very sleepy. Our long-term goal is to help protect the health of our service members. Ongoing analysis of the extensive data collected is underway to fully examine the relationship between sleep deprivation and operational performance. Findings from this study suggest that sleep deprivation, fragmentation, and restriction impacts NG medical personnel’s performance on simulated tasks during disaster training.