By Col. Deydre S. Teyhen, DPT, PhD, OCS | System for Health and Performance Triad | Health and Wellness Directorate, G-3/5/7, Office of the Army Surgeon General
I have the awesome responsibility to help execute the Army Surgeon General’s vision every day with my team. That vision includes instilling the Performance Triad of sleep, activity, and nutrition into the Army’s “DNA.” I want to share some of these great tips with all of you, too, so that you can start applying the Triad targets today and improve your overall health and resilience.
Sleep. Activity. Nutrition. Each is a vital component of the Performance Triad. The Performance Triad is the Army’s comprehensive plan to improve the overall health readiness and wellness of the total Army (soldiers, army civilians and family members) by promoting quality sleep, an active lifestyle, and good nutrition.
March 2-9 is National Sleep Awareness Week and a good time to highlight the vital role that sleep plays in maintaining a healthy body and mind. Sleep promotes peak performance, good moods, helps fight infections, and assists in maintaining a healthy weight. Healthy sleep habits include length and quality of sleep, both of which are important for your best performance. Adults need at least 7-8 (the Army standard) hours of sleep every night and the better quality the sleep, the greater its benefits.
“We know poor sleep is most times due to poor environment and poor habits,” said Lt. Col. Ingrid Lim, the Performance Triad Sleep Lead at the Army Surgeon General’s Office. She offers some tips to improve your sleeping environment: remove all electronics in the sleep area, limit caffeine at least six hours before bedtime, and set a bedtime routine.
Physical activity is essential to your performance, your physical readiness, and your health. It is more than just “exercise” or “working out” – it is about living an active lifestyle. Find a physical activity that works for you.
“Stress at work hasn’t stopped, but I know that every night I can get on the bike and decompress for an hour on my ride home, and that is everything,” said Army Col. David Bitterman, Chief of Staff at Southern Regional Medical Command.
Eating right plays an important role in your daily life. Eating and fueling for performance enables top level training, increases energy and endurance, shortens recovery time between activities (or training), improves focus and concentration, and helps everyone look and feel better. Diet plans aren’t sustainable.
“I just make healthier choices now and make sure to eat less if I know I’ll be eating at a restaurant,” said Connie Johnson, a family member at Fort Lee, Virginia. Johnson cut back on her daily calorie intake and incorporates more fruits and vegetables into her diet. “People think I am crazy, but I don’t miss ice cream at all.”
Without proper sleep, activity, and nutrition a person will eventually lose the ability to perform effectively at work, at home, and in life. Lack of good nutrition can disturb sleep, which makes a person less likely to engage in activity. Lack of sleep can lead to fatigue, which makes exercise and clear thinking more difficult and can lead to poor food choices. Inactivity can lead to weight gain, fatigue, and greater stress on the body.
Next time, I’ll share with you some tools that are available and tailored to the Army and military communities that will you start improving your sleep, activity and nutrition.
Learn more about the Performance Triad at: http://armymedicine.mil
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