Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep. You may still feel tired when you wake up (Insomnia 2016).
At the time I am writing this article it is 3:30 in the morning, I have not had any coffee and I legitimately tried to get back to sleep. I guess 5 hours of sleep will have to do today. Believe it or not, this is a good night and I feel well rested.
Insomnia is caused by many disruptions in your daily lifestyle. Stress, travel, work schedule, poor sleep habits and even eating right before bed. It also becomes more prevalent as you get older due to the changes in your lifestyle.
So how do we fight it?
Start by targeting what may be the root cause. Stick to a regular schedule. Figure out how much sleep YOU need to feel well rested in the mornings. It may be the recommended seven to nine hours or you may only need five hours of sleep to feel good.
If you stare at your phone late at night start by putting it down earlier or even in a different room as you sleep. Get off IG or TikTok, it will still be there tomorrow. Try reading a book while lying in bed. Taking time away from a screen and reading a hardcopy book is a great way to calm your mind and it helps stimulate your body’s natural production of melatonin. If you eat a heavy meal right before bed try a bowl of cereal instead.
But here’s the thing. Taking these measures will only take you so far. If your goal is to be an operator, you will be stressed whether you know it or not. You will live your life at such a high level of stress every day that it will become normal for you. It starts day one in the military and only increases from there. That is how it should be. You should be so used to stress that you can thrive in any environment no matter the stressors.
During my operational career I have gotten home as late as noon the following day without sleeping. In all honesty, that's not even bad. There have been days where I pulled out a sleeping bag and mat and crashed at work because driving home was not going to happen. I have been woken up at all hours of the night due to phone calls to go help someone in need. So much so now that my phone alarm is on vibrate because I hear a pin drop and I am awake for the night. Flying across the world and adjusting your sleep schedule to match their timeline really isn’t that bad in comparison… You normally get a bit of extra help for that one.
While you are on deployment, you are always on call. It isn’t like stateside where if something happens the squadron leadership has three teams to call to go save someone who fell off a cliff. On deployment, they have you and your small team to go save lives and aid the injured. When that happens, fuck sleep, you’re going.
My reasoning behind this post is to frame your mind NOW before you join. You WILL end up with insomnia. Take care of your body now by getting the appropriate amount of sleep. Because soon, an abnormal sleep cycle is all you will know.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016, October 15). Insomnia. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 1, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355167
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