Of all the various skills you learn during military service, by far the most underrated is this: proficiency in polyphasic slumber. You learn to fall asleep fast, wake up fast, get off your ass fast. You learn to rack out at any opportunity, in any situation, under any circumstance, regardless of external conditions. If it looks like you won’t be needed for 15-20 minutes, you sleep for 13-18 of them, because you can’t be sure when you’ll get another chance to sleep.

Like any military skill, learning to sleep isn’t done for your comfort or convenience or your personal well-being. You learn to sleep because it’s a military necessity. If you don’t get a bare minimum of sleep, you make bad decisions, you become a liability, you put your unit at risk.

You learn to sleep through noise, you learn to sleep sitting up, you learn to sleep on uneven ground, you learn to sleep wearing your gear, you learn to sleep even if you’re cold or wet or hungry or scared.

You might get to dream. The military can’t stop you from dreaming, though you probably won’t have time to put a dream together. If the military wanted you to have a dream, they’d have issued you one.

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