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Eighty-five percent of U.S. military study participants had a clinically relevant sleep disorder, researchers say.
Lead author Dr. Vincent Mysliwiec, chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., said 51 percent of had obstructive sleep apnea followed by 25 percent with insomnia.
The study involved an analysis of 725 diagnostic polysomnograms -- used to diagnose sleep problems -- performed in 2010 at Madigan Army Medical Center.
Study subjects were active duty military personnel from the U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy, comprising mostly men -- 93.2 percent -- and 85 percent were combat veterans. Sleep disorder diagnoses were adjudicated by a board certified sleep medicine physician.
The study, published in the journal Sleep, found the participants' mean self-reported home sleep duration was only 5.74 hours per night, and 41.8 percent reported sleeping 5 hours or less per night.
Individual sleep needs vary, but most adults need about 7 to 8 hours of nightly sleep to feel alert and well-rested during the day.
"While sleep deprivation is part of the military culture, the high prevalence of short sleep duration in military personnel with sleep disorders was surprising," Mysliwiec said in a statement. "The potential risk of increased accidents as well as long-term clinical consequences of both short sleep duration and a sleep disorder in our population is unknown."