FORT BENNING, Ga. (Feb. 5, 2014) -- For many, tossing and turning has become a common ritual that interrupts the body's most crucial hours for rest.

The Performance Triad program, launched by the Office of the Surgeon General and Army Medicine, is using components such as sleep, nutrition and activity to promote a better quality of life for Soldiers, civilians, retirees and Families.

Lt. Col John Melton, chief of staff for Martin Army Community Hospital and action officer for the hospital's Performance Triad, said the program encourages leaders across the Army to take a serious look at the link between these components and their effects physical, mental and emotional health over time.

"The Performance Triad is the U.S. Army MEDCOM's initiative to bring situational awareness to our beneficiary population to adopt healthy behaviors and turn them into lifelong habits," he said.

Melton said lack of sleep or poor quality sleep may prevent the ability to make sound judgments and increase the risk for illnesses such as stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

"If you sleep less than seven hours on an average night, it affects your ability to learn and make decisions and your mortality increases nearly 40 percent," Melton said.
There's also a science behind sleep. The circadian rhythm, the body's internal clock, can be disrupted by factors such as light and temperature.

"During the course of your day, your body starts producing melatonin, which helps you to sleep, and cortisol to help you wake up," Melton said.

"Hormones are driven by how your brain interprets light that your eyes receive. If you are checking your Blackberry or smartphone right before you go to sleep, your eyes will tell your brain that it is still daylight."

Melton said sticking to a daily routine can significantly improve the quality of sleep.
Spacing meals and physical activity throughout the day will create a balanced cycle of energy and fuel for the body. Melton said shifting the culture through education and adopting healthy choices can make a great impact individually and across the Army.

"It's all about how appreciating how this incredible machine we call the human body works," Melton said. "The more that individuals and leaders are educated and have a better appreciation for how our bodies work, they will be in a better position to make better decisions about their own health."

Editor's note: This is the first article in a series on three essential components of the Army's Performance Triad for health and wellness -- sleep, nutrition and activity. To learn more about the Performance Triad, visit

Getting better sleep

Signs of insufficient sleep:
•Struggling to stay awake during mission breaks, guard duty or driving
•Difficulty understanding or tracking information
•Attention lapses
•Irritability, decreased initiative or motivation

Overcoming sleep distractors:
•Nap as much as possible to get 7-8 hours of sleep every 24 hours
•If tactically permitted, use soft foam earplugs and a sleep mask or room fan to block noise or light
•Do not use any drugs (prescription or over-the-counter) to help you sleep unless you are taking them under the guidance of your healthcare provider

Best sleep habits:
•Sleep 7-8 hours every 24 hours
•No caffeine within 6 hours of lights out
•Finish PT three hours before lights out
•Establish a wind-down routine starting 30--60 minutes before lights out.
•Stop using electronics. Read or listen to relaxing music instead
•Empty your bladder just before lights out so the need to urinate won't interrupt your sleep
•Sleep in a safe, quiet place: if tactically permitted, use soft foam earplugs or a fan to block sounds; use a sleep mask to block light
•Wake up at the same time every day of the week
•If you still have sleep problems two weeks after correcting your sleep habits, talk to your healthcare provider


Page last updated Tue February 4th, 2014 at 16:56