Is Sleep A Modifiable Behaviour in a Military Populations?

Research Paper Title

Self-reported health behaviors, including sleep, correlate with doctor-informed medical conditions: data from the 2011 Health Related Behaviors Survey of U.S. Active Duty Military Personnel.

Background

Health behaviors and cardiometabolic disease risk factors may differ between military and civilian populations; therefore, in U.S. active duty military personnel, we assessed relationships between demographic characteristics, self-reported health behaviors, and doctor-informed medical conditions.

Methods

Data were self-reported by 27,034 active duty military and Coast Guard personnel who responded to the 2011 Department of Defense Health Related Behaviors Survey. Multivariate linear and logistic regressions were used to estimate cross-sectional associations between (1) demographic characteristics (age, sex, service branch, marital status, children, race/ethnicity, pay grade) and self-reported behaviors (exercise, diet, smoking, alcohol, sleep); (2) demographic characteristics and doctor-informed medical conditions (hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, low high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, hyperglycemia) and overweight/obesity; and (3) behaviors and doctor-informed medical conditions.

Results

Among respondents (age 29.9 ± 0.1 years, 14.7% female), females reported higher intake than men of fruit, vegetables, and dairy; those with higher education reported higher intakes of whole grains; those currently married and/or residing with children reported higher intake of starches. Older age and female sex were associated with higher odds (ORs 1.25 to 12.54 versus the youngest age group) of overweight/obesity. Older age and female sex were also associated with lower odds (ORs 0.29 to 0.65 versus male sex) of doctor-informed medical conditions, except for blood glucose, for which females had higher odds. Those currently married had higher odds of high cholesterol and overweight/obesity, and separated/divorced/widowed respondents had higher odds of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Short sleep duration (< 5 versus 7-8 h/night) was associated with higher odds (ORs 1.36to 2.22) of any given doctor-informed medical condition. Strength training was associated with lower probability of high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and low HDL, and higher probability of overweight/obesity. Dietary factors were variably associated with doctor-informed medical conditions and overweight/obesity.

Conclusions

This study observed pronounced associations between health behaviors-especially sleep-and medical conditions, thus adding to evidence that sleep is a critical, potentially modifiable behavior within this population. When possible, adequate sleep should continue to be promoted as an important part of overall health and wellness throughout the military community.

Reference

Hruby, A., Lieberman, H.R. & Smith, T.J. (2018) Self-reported health behaviors, including sleep, correlate with doctor-informed medical conditions: data from the 2011 Health Related Behaviors Survey of U.S. Active Duty Military Personnel. BMC Public Health. 18(1):853. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-5781-2.

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