Make Sleep A Priority - Sleep is a biological need for brain functioning and is critical for sustaining the mental abilities required for success in basic combat training and advanced individual training. Soldiers require a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep every 24-hours.
In basic combat training, you will have the opportunity for at least 7 hours of continuous sleep per night (unless you are scheduled for duty such as access control guard/fireguard or charge of quarters runner).
During field training, the length of the training day and time for sleep will vary based on training requirements; however, your commander will ensure that the schedule allows sufficient time for sleep during field training.
The MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU MUST REMEMBER: When you have the opportunity to sleep, do it. Insufficient sleep presents a risk to mission success. Sleep deprived Soldiers are likely to make mission critical and sometimes fatal errors.
The demanding nature of military operations often creates situations in which obtaining enough sleep on a regular basis is difficult or impossible. Such chronic, insufficient sleep (anything less than 7—8 hours per 24) produces a sleep debt – a chronic state of increased sleep need that is characterized by impaired performance and readiness.
The only way to eliminate the debt is to obtain sleep (just closing your eyes and resting is not the same as sleeping/napping). As a Soldier you must make sleep a priority!
When you have the opportunity to rest or sleep, do it.
In addition to Army training, personal hygiene plays a crucial role in your overall physical readiness as a strong, productive Soldier. There are numerous health concerns that can arise if you do not conduct proper personal hygiene at home and in field environments.
Hazard of Communicable Diseases
Communicable diseases are caused by specific infectious organisms like viruses or bacteria transmitted from one person to another. The person who is infected may feel sick and look sick, or might carry the illness without feeling or looking sick. These diseases can rapidly degrade the medical readiness of military units and their ability to carry out their mission. They can also cause significant suffering and overwhelm the military health care system.
You received vaccinations to protect you against the increased risk of these infections when you entered the Army, and you will receive additional vaccinations prior to traveling to foreign areas. There are many communicable illnesses that do not have vaccines such as, the common cold and hepatitis C and D.
Resistance to Illness
Vaccines do part of the job; the rest is up to you. You are immune to most illnesses most of the time because of your own immune system. It continues with things you do to protect yourself, like keeping yourself and your environment clean; wearing a clean uniform appropriate for the season; and avoiding contact with persons who are ill. Also, you should always cough into your arm and clean your hands frequently to avoid spreading/receiving germs.
Regular bathing with soap and water is important for both cleanliness and personal appearance.
Bathing prevents hygiene-related diseases such as scabies, ringworm, athlete’s foot, skin infections, and pink eye.
You should especially wash your hands, face and ears, armpits, groin, and feet. In addition to washing your skin regularly you should wash your hair at least twice a week, shave daily and, avoid sharing combs or razors with others.
Wash Hands Regularly
Normally your immune system protects you against invasion by bacteria, viruses, and parasites; however, if your hands become contaminated with these organisms and you put them up to your nose or mouth, disease germs can invade your body and cause an infection.
Many aspects of basic training can make you more vulnerable to respiratory illnesses, including close contact with other Soldiers.
The physical and psychological stresses of military training can make you more vulnerable to illness. In addition, your immune system may not be ready to withstand the new organisms you are exposed to when first brought together as a group.
Almost 90 percent of Soldiers get symptoms of respiratory illness at some point during basic combat training. In most cases, these illnesses are mild and trainees are able to continue training, but sometimes they progress to worse infections like pneumonia or meningitis.
Washing your hands with soap and water is the most effective way to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses which are major cause of food borne diseases and other illnesses. Although the use of hand sanitizers is effective for killing most of these harmful organisms on the hands, they are ineffective on hands that are heavily soiled with dirt, grease, and other debris. Therefore the use of hand sanitizers should not be used in place of hand washing, rather as a supplement to or a temporary alternative when hand washing is not available.
Wash or sanitize your hands every time:
After using the latrine
Before eating or handling food
After sneezing or blowing your nose
It is important to practice good hygiene habits when you are in basic training, because it will become more difficult to wash your hands and bathe regularly when you are in the field or deployed.
Dental Health and Readiness
Brush and Floss Your Teeth.
Keeping your mouth healthy maintains your dental readiness, and ensures that you won’t suffer from pain, infection, or inability to eat high-performance foods. Poor oral health takes more Soldiers out of the fight than the enemy does.
Wisdom teeth and gum disease cause problems, but most dental emergencies are caused by tooth decay or its complications.
Tooth decay is usually caused by bacteria (germs) that feed on starchy or sugary snacks and beverages, and by acids that wear away the surfaces of teeth. Soda, juice, sweet tea, sports drinks and energy drinks all contain sugar and acids that can damage teeth.
Saliva is critical for protecting your teeth from decay by neutralizing acids, hardening teeth, and fighting germs.
Stressful training or operations can decrease saliva flow, leaving you vulnerable to decay.
Prevent dental problems in two ways: watch what you put in your mouth, and clean your mouth every day.
Your teeth and gums need the same water intake, calcium, vitamins and minerals, and protein that the rest of your body does, as well as protection from sugars, acid content, and simple starches.
In addition to a healthy diet:
If you drink sugary drinks, make sure they are cold and minimize contact with your teeth. You can use a straw that reaches to the back of your tongue, or just chug the drink down all at once.
Rinse your mouth with plain water after drinking sugary drinks
If you drink juice, choose juice that has calcium added, to minimize acid damage.
Use xylitol-sweetened gum or mints for 5-10 minutes after meals and snacks to fight cavities.
Avoid tobacco. Tobacco can cause gum disease and oral cancer.
Use lip balm with sunscreen during sun exposure to prevent lip cancer.
Clean your mouth every day:
Brush 2 - 3 times a day, every day, with fluoride toothpaste to remove food particles and harmful bacteria from your teeth. Fluoride helps repair early stage tooth decay.
Brush before going to sleep to provide greater protection for your teeth.
Use a soft or ultrasoft toothbrush that is small enough to fit around your back teeth.
Brush your teeth for about 2-3 minutes using a gentle, circular motion. Pay extra attention to the gum-line, back teeth, and areas around fillings, crowns or bridges.
Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth to remove germs that cause tooth decay and bad breath.
If you have an appliance such as an orthodontic retainer or partial denture, remove it before brushing your teeth. Brush all surfaces of the appliance also.
Do not rinse your mouth after brushing. Just spit several times to remove excess toothpaste.
Don’t eat or drink anything for at least 30 minutes after you brush so the fluoride will stay on your teeth longer and protect them better
If you can’t brush:
Swish with water after eating or drinking.
Wipe your teeth with a clean cloth wrapped around your finger.
Rub toothpaste on the surfaces of your teeth with your finger.
Floss once a day. Flossing removes bacteria and food in between teeth, where a toothbrush can’t reach
Use 18 inches of floss. Wrap the end of the floss around your middle finger and use your index finger to guide the floss.
Insert the floss between your teeth. Pull gently side to side to get it through the tight spots, but be careful not to saw your gums! Use a different area of the floss for each space.
Gently move the floss up and down against the tooth in back, then the tooth in front.
Wrap the floss around the teeth as you’re moving it up and down.
Your gums may bleed at first when you start flossing every day. If bleeding continues to happen after a week or two of flossing, see your dentist.
Remember - YOU control whether you get cavities or not!
Whenever a dentist tells you there is a problem at your annual exam, get it treated as soon as possible.
Note: Females should be extra vigilant about brushing with fluoride toothpaste 2 or 3 times a day, to prevent cavities and bleeding gums.
This is because females tend to make less saliva than males, which can leave them more vulnerable to decay.
Fluctuations in female hormones can also negatively affect oral health. Hormones and oral contraceptives can increase bacteria levels in the mouth and cause changes in the blood vessels in the gums, leading to gingivitis.
Females who have gingivitis can experience an increase in symptoms during monthly hormonal fluctuations, resulting in tenderness, swelling, and bleeding when brushing.
Females who use oral contraceptives are also twice as likely to develop a dry socket after dental extraction.
Smoking increases this risk.
Hormone fluctuations and stressful environments have been associated with development of painful mouth ulcers or canker sores.
Nutritional deficiencies (vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, folate, C and iron, magnesium or zinc) may also increase your risk of developing mouth ulcers, so eating fruits and vegetables can help.
Over-the-counter remedies are effective for the discomfort caused by small ulcers. Larger or more painful ulcers may interfere with a normal diet.
A dentist can prescribe medicine to reduce pain and accelerate healing of larger ulcers.
Athlete’s foot usually looks like little blisters between the toes. These can pop, causing itching and little sharp pains. Also, the skin might crack or look scaly.
You can get athlete’s foot from walking barefooted on unclean facilities and not washing your feet.
The symptoms include itching, flaking, and cracking between toes or on bottom of feet.
To prevent Athlete’s foot, do the following:
Wear shower shoes while taking showers and when walking on the floor.
Use a towel to dry thoroughly between your toes.
Wear clean dry socks; never wear another Soldier’s socks.
Clean the showers and latrine floors daily.
Sprinkle foot powder in your socks to help absorb the moisture.
Remove the inserts from your boots at night to prevent fungus from growing.
If you get athlete’s foot, you need an anti-fungal solution or cream to treat it.
Wear one pair of boots one day and change to your other pair the next day.
In addition to preventing Athlete’s foot, you must also make sure you prevent ingrown toenails. Ingrown toenails are caused by a combination of tight shoes and trimming the toenails down to the edge of the nail.
Symptoms include tenderness, swelling, sharp pain, redness, and discharge.
You can prevent ingrown toenails by trimming nails straight across every two weeks.
Seek medical attention for treatment, for surgery may be necessary to remove the nail from the skin. Cut toenails short and square
Trim Your Toenails
Blisters are caused by friction from tight fitting shoes, breaking in new boots, and road marches.
Symptoms are redness and tenderness of the skin.
All blisters cannot be prevented, but they can be minimized.
Wearing proper fitting boots and tight fitting, clean, dry socks free of excessive wear can prevent most blisters.
Second skin (mole skin) on “hot spots,” knee-high nylons, and good personal hygiene will help reduce chances of getting a blister as well.
Wash with a mild soap and water and keep your skin clean and dry. Apply a topical anti-biotic ointment to prevent infection.
Cover with bandage or second skin to prevent from opening.
DO NOT purposely open a blister.
If blister opens, treat as you would any open cut.
Always leave the top skin of a drained blister.
Pulling off the top layer of skin can damage the new skin underneath and cause infection.
Protect Your Hearing
Survival on the battlefield could depend on your ability to hear. Hearing loss caused by noise is painless, progressive, permanent, but also preventable.
To protect your hearing, insert your earplugs correctly whenever instructed to wear them.
Do not lose your earplugs. If you do lose your earplugs, notify your drill sergeant immediately.
Wear your earplugs to protect your hearing, for you will be glad you did.
Protect against the Effects of Heat and Cold
Protect Against the Effects of Heat, Cold, and Insects.
While you are in BCT and AIT you may be exposed to extremes of heat and cold and biting insects. To protect you from the effects of heat, cold, and insects your cadre will ensure that you have the following things:
Safeguards against over-stress from heat, or over-exposure to cold, especially in your first couple weeks.
Water and other beverages, and nutritious meals. You will probably be drinking more water and beverages than you are used to drinking.
Protective clothing and sunscreen, and insect repellent. Your uniform is factory-treated with a conventional insect repellent for clothing.