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A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report has revealed a significant sleep deficiency among military personnel, with no concrete action taken by the Pentagon.

The GAO’s findings highlight that active-duty service members frequently get less than seven hours of sleep nightly. This lack of sleep has been linked to numerous safety incidents, including mishaps, near misses, and fatalities costing the US government billions of dollars.

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Many service members, especially pilots and vehicle operators, reported that fatigue has jeopardized their work performance. Despite over 130 fatigue-related studies conducted by the military since 2017, a lack of coordination and information sharing has stifled progress in effectively addressing sleep and fatigue management within the Department of Defense.

The GAO report also points to the broader implications of sleep deprivation on service members’ health, including increased risks of obesity, depression, heart disease, and even suicide. Notably, the period from 2015 to 2019 saw almost 500 reports of deaths, serious injuries, and property damage within the Department of the Navy alone, attributed to driving while fatigued.

One incident involved the collision of two Navy ships collisions in 2017, where fatigue was identified as a contributing factor. This incident resulted in the deaths of 17 sailors.

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Despite the recognition of sleep as a critical factor in military readiness and health, the path to widespread implementation of improved sleep practices faces challenges. According to military officials, the responsibility often falls to unit leaders, who must balance mission objectives with the well-being of their personnel.


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