WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Missouri --
The 509th Medical Group hosted a sleep deprivation seminar at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, July 17, 2020, to highlight the effects of lack of sleep, and offer helpful tips to prevent sleepless nights.
The event was implemented to teach Airmen and their families about the negative effects of sleep deprivation while also giving them resources and information to mitigate stress and preserve mental health through healthy sleep practices.
“The event covered how sleep effects each of us and the resources available to overcome sleep issues,” said Alicia Ferris-Dannenberg, 509th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron Health Promotion Program coordinator. “Medical Professionals taught Airmen and their families about how lack of sleep effects relationships, human performance such as fitness, mental clarity and decision making, as well as mental health and weight management.”
Four speakers from the 509th MDG led the event. The speakers highlighted the negative effects of sleep deprivation on mental and physical health, job performance, and personal relationships.
“Sleep is critically important to your health and well being. Sleep deprivation is actually a two way street, sleep problems can cause emotional and behavioral problems, and psychological problems can cause sleep problems,” said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Christopher Button, 509th Mental Health Flight commander. “I have met few patients where we were not able to help behavioral issues with sleep, and vice versa.”
Airmen who attended the event and audience members viewing virtually were encouraged to participate during the seminar by answering questions and asking speakers specific questions about how to overcome sleep deprivation. Events like this allow Airmen and their families to gain information about physical and mental health concerns, and ways to reduce stress during times of hardship, such as the global coronavirus pandemic.
Attendees gained knowledge of how to mitigate sleep deprivation through practices such as creating more prioritized sleep schedules, avoiding certain foods and drinks before attempting to sleep, reading and listening to calming music before bed, and reaching out to the mental health clinic for more specialized measures and practices.
“Healthy sleep can improve mental health when the body is allowed to have all 5 stages of a sleep cycle which allows the body to repair and create new neurons,” said Ferris-Dannenberg. “This is a time of healing and recovery which is necessary on a day to day basis.”
For more information about sleep deprivation, or any other mental health needs, please contact the 509th Mental Health Clinic at (660) 687-4341.