20 Jun 2024

Underwater wellbeing

The first study has been carried out examining the sleep, mood and lifestyle behaviour of US Navy sailors working on a 24-hour schedule on a submarine. Data about 58 participants was recorded over 30 days of routine training at sea, which involved them spending eight hours on watch followed by 16 hours off.

Their sleep was tracked using a wearable watch device and they were also given questionnaires to complete. Lifestyle factors that were monitored included workload, use of caffeine and nicotine and the amount of exercise sailors took.

Researchers discovered that when participants described their sleep quality as low, they were more likely to have poorer behaviours, such as a lack of exercise or regular meals. Their mood had also decreased by the end of their time at sea.

The findings could help develop interventions that may improve quality of life for submariners while they’re on operations.

The study, published in the journal Applied Ergonomics, said: Potential interventions include better education about the importance of sleep hygiene, strategic use of caffeine, the development of countermeasures to control for unwanted pre-bedtime light exposure, and schedule changes to allow dedicated time for morale- and health-boosting activities such as exercise or meditation.”

It added: “By prioritizing quality sleep and positive behavioral change, and thereby maximizing performance and mood outcomes, the Navy will improve the health and safety of submariners.”

Read the full article.