Lack of Sleep Among Veterans

Sleep problems are an ongoing issue for many people working in the military, especially veterans. More than 75% of veterans have some symptoms that can be related to different sleep disorders.

Written by:


, Sleep Researcher
Last Updated: Sun, October 6, 2019
Fact checked by:

Marko Jevtic

, Sleep Specialist

Sleep problems are an ongoing issue for many people working in the military, especially veterans. Recent research shows that more than 75% of veterans have some symptoms that can be related to different sleep disorders. Among those who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, this percentage is even higher.

Many Americans are dealing with sleep disorders which occur as a consequence of their lifestyle or career choices, for example, working in shifts is particularly bad for our sleep, but some professions are more stressful and come with higher risks and responsibility. Military-related jobs are recognized as professions that have a profoundly negative impact on sleep since those consequences on sleep usually remain or get even worse when people retire from the military.

By the term veteran federal law and military service consider any person who served for any length of time in any branch of military service (“Any, any, any”), for example, navy, army, marines or air force.

In 2015. the Department of Defense performed a study which showed that around 33% of active service members feel severe fatigue at least three times per week due to the lack of sleep, while 51% of them reported that they feel how sleep loss is hindering their daily functioning and responsibilities. Service members normally sleep for six or fewer hours per night, which is below the optimal recommendation of eight hours, they are also often deployed, exposed to traumatic events and injuries. This specific lifestyle is hard to keep up with, and there is not much time for rest, so people would expect that once they retire they should be able to be carefree and get enough sleep, but then as the aftermath, they have to deal with sleep difficulties.


What Keeps Veterans Up At Night?

Military service corps are highly valued for their sacrifices since they often find themselves in difficult and dangerous situations far away from home in foreign countries that are in a war. Those who go through these war-torn countries are often facing many psychological and emotional struggles since the things that they have seen and survived haunts them afterward. Being exposed to such things for months or years, impacts each person in a different way, but sleep-related problems are common for almost all of them. Getting insufficient sleep due to the unique nature of their job in combination with stress and life-or-death decision making keeps our veterans up for many nights. We have all spent a few nights up overthinking some minor things that happened to us, so it is not hard to imagine how challenging can it be to fall asleep after spending a part of your life as a military service member. Here are some of the most common causes of why our veterans are having troubles with sleep.


Veterans Sleep Disorders

As we mentioned before, while they are working as active service members on duty, many are unable to maintain a healthy sleep routine, they are chronically sleep deprived, fatigued, which impacts their performance and overall health. They develop sleep disorders even before they retire, but since they can be so hard to treat, many get used to living with them. But, due to the many stressful and traumatic things that they have survived, it is essential that sleep disorders among veterans are not taken for granted, they need to be treated properly because they can often lead to depression and suicide. Unfortunately, the suicide rate is high among the veterans, according to the data collected between 1979. and 2016. when the Department of the US Veterans Affairs analyzed the records of 55 millions of veterans, it shows off that on average 20 veterans die each day due to suicide. Sleep disorders are, of course, not the main and only cause of it, but they can contribute significantly.


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She would be a morning person if mornings started at noon. Art historian, taurus, coffee lover, traveler, F1 fan who hates to drive, and well experienced insomniac with one life goal, to sleep like a coala for up to 20 hours per day.

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