Sleeping is difficult enough for anyone, but for soldiers deployed in combat zones it can be a nightmare. Repeated nights of little or no sleep can lead to a variety of psychological and physical problems, including insomnia, which affects around 55% of service members who have suffered mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). It’s also linked to depression and PTSD.
The military’s FM 7-22 Holistic Health and Fitness manual advises troops to get seven or eight hours of sleep a night and to try to follow a regular schedule. It also suggests that they take short, daytime naps and use mosquito nets to avoid insects. It warns them not to let the environment dictate their sleep, and it discourages clock watching (which can increase anxiety), playing computer games or arguing while trying to fall asleep.
While a lot of this advice may sound obvious, it’s not always possible. The environments that troops sleep in are often dangerous or uncomfortable, or they’re forced to work on unpredictable operational schedules and are under heavy stress daily. One study, published in the Dec. 1 issue of SLEEP, found that deployment significantly influenced sleep patterns. Those who had been deployed were 28 percent more likely to report trouble falling or staying asleep than those who hadn’t been, though the effect was partially mediated with statistical modeling that factored in mental health symptoms.
To find out more, Business Insider collected some of the strangest places soldiers have tried to catch a few zzzzzs while they’ve been on duty. They’ve slept in everything from submarine rooms to tanks, aircraft and even truck beds.