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Study Finds That Astronauts Are Severely Sleep Deprived 106

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Researchers tracked the sleep patterns of 85 crew members aboard the International Space Station and space shuttle and found that despite an official flight schedule mandating 8.5 hours of sleep per night, they rarely got more than five. In fact, getting a full night's rest was so difficult that three-quarters of shuttle mission crew members used sleep medication, and sometimes entire teams were sedated on the same night. Given that sleep deprivation contributes to up to 80% of aviation accidents, it's important to better understand why sleep is so difficult in space, the authors say."
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Study Finds That Astronauts Are Severely Sleep Deprived

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  • Sleeping patterns? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Carnildo ( 712617 ) on Friday August 08, 2014 @05:51PM (#47633895) Homepage Journal

    I don't think there's ever been a proper study of astronauts' natural sleeping patterns in space. There are always more things people want astronauts to do than there are hours to do them in, so everything (including sleep) is very tightly scheduled. Nobody's ever said "spend the next week doing nothing but keeping your spaceship running, and do it on your own schedule".

    We don't know what effect, if any, the freefall environment has on sleep patterns. It may be that astronauts are so sleep-deprived because Mission Control has been scheduling things wrong.

  • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Friday August 08, 2014 @06:28PM (#47634141)

    Seriously, someone contact these authors:

    Given that sleep deprivation contributes to up to 80% of aviation accidents, it's important to better understand why sleep is so difficult in space, the authors say.

    Causes range from slipping the surly bonds of earth, to floating weightless around a space station, to being able to look out a window and see the place where nearly every recorded event in human history has happened from a vantage that you would never otherwise get. Everything from showering to eating to pooping to masturbating is new again!

    I would probably have to spend at least a month on the space station before the idea of closing my eyes for an extended period sounded like a good use of my time.

  • by thisisauniqueid ( 825395 ) on Friday August 08, 2014 @06:41PM (#47634221)
    I know Yi So-Yeon, the first Korean astronaut. She said she hated space. She wanted to throw up the whole time, and felt like her head was going to explode. (Both of these symptoms are caused by gravity not pulling things downwards, as well as the vestibular system being screwed up.)

    Personally, I have been on a Zero-G "Vomit comet" flight, and it *was* "frickin awesome" until about the 15th parabola, then I started feeling extremely nauseated. I'm lucky we landed before I needed to throw up (some poor shmuck paid $6000 for the flight and had to strap himself into a seat so he could throw up constantly into a bag after the very first parabola). However, I have never felt more motion-sick -- it was *awful* -- and it didn't subside for over five hours after we landed.
  • by reverseengineer ( 580922 ) on Friday August 08, 2014 @08:56PM (#47635137)

    I read the Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal [nasa.gov] during the anniversary back on July 20th, and one of the entries that stood out to me was a section called "Trying to Rest," which detailed a time between the end of the astronauts' moonwalk, but prior to when they needed to make preparations to liftoff from the Moon. A period of about 7 hours was scheduled for the astronauts to sleep, but

    [Armstrong - "(The quality of the rest) was poor in my case."]

    [Aldrin - "I'd say the same thing."]

    In their technical debrief, Armstrong and Aldrin detailed some problems with their sleep environment- too cold, too bright, too noisy, but yeah, that they were also just too excited to sleep. (It does mention that most of the technical problems were worked out by Apollo 15, and the last few crews got decent sleep on the lunar surface. I'm still convinced that if it were me, I would have responded to planned rest periods with "HOUSTON, I CAN SLEEP WHEN I GET BACK FROM THE MOON, OVER.")

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant