Sleep Tactics During Sustained Operations 

Performance Triad SleepSleep is critical for sustaining the mental abilities you need for success in training and on the battlefield. Even simple tasks such as communicating, driving, or plotting grid coordinates can be impaired by inadequate sleep (anything less than 7-8 hours every 24 hours). Soldiers can correctly site a target - but they might select the wrong target.

Combat operations can create situations where inadequate sleep becomes the norm. Soldiers who do not get enough sleep accumulate a sleep debt that must be paid off by getting the needed sleep. It's mission-critical to make sleep a top priority.

Inadequate sleep impairs these (and other) abilities:

  • Detecting and appropriately determining threat level
  • Requesting indirect fire
  • Coordinating squad tactics
  • Integrating range cards

Sleep Tactics for Sustained Operations                                                                                             


  • Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every 24 hours the week before the operation so that you start the mission with a full sleep bank.


  • If possible, get 7-8 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
  • If 7-8 hours is not possible, take naps when mission permits to minimize your sleep debt.
  • Use caffeine to temporarily sustain mental performance until you can obtain sleep.


  • Get extra sleep each day to pay off your sleep debt and resupply your sleep bank.

Using Caffeine                                                                                                                                            

Sustained Operations (no sleep)

  • 200 milligrams (mg) at about midnight
  • Take 200 mg again at 0400 and 0800 hours, if needed
  • Use during daytime (1200, 1600 hours) only if needed
Night Ops with Daytime Sleep 
  • 200 mg at the start of night shift
  • 200 mg again 4 hours later
  • Last dose: at least 6 hours before sleep period

Restricted Sleep (< 6 hrs) 

  • Take 200 mg upon awakening
  • Take 200 mg again 4 hours later
  • No caffeine within 6 hours of lights out

50 mg = 1 16-oz. bottle of Coke®

100 mg = 1 piece of Stay Alert® chewing gum
60 mg = 1 squirt (1/2 tsp) MiO® Energy Water Enhancer 160 mg = Monster® Energy Drink
60 mg = 1 16-oz. bottle of Diet Coke®  200 mg = 1 tablet of NoDoz®
80 mg = 1 8.3-oz. can of RedBull® 330 mg = 1 16-oz. Starbucks PikePlace® Roast Coffee

Use of trademarked name(s) does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Army  but is intended only to assist in identification of specific products.

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