News / Science & Technology

Study: Astronauts Sleep Deprived, Use Sleeping Pills

Astronaut Mike Hopkins, Expedition 38 Flight Engineer, is shown in this handout photo provided by NASA as he participates in the second of two spacewalks which took place on December 24, 2013, released on December 27, 2013.
Astronaut Mike Hopkins, Expedition 38 Flight Engineer, is shown in this handout photo provided by NASA as he participates in the second of two spacewalks which took place on December 24, 2013, released on December 27, 2013.

Related Articles

Rosetta Probe Meets Comet After Decade-Long Chase

Rosetta spacecraft will escort Comet 67P for the next year and observe it as it heads towards the sun

Video NASA Probing Secrets of Van Allen Radiation Belt

Scientists say better understanding of Van Allen belt will help us prepare for potential surprises from our own sun
VOA News

Despite the allure of floating in a weightless environment, outer space may not be the best place to take a snooze, according to new research.

Over the course of a 10-year study of astronauts’ sleeping patterns, researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Colorado found the astronauts “suffer considerable sleep deficiency in the weeks leading up to and during space flight.”

“Sleep deficiency is pervasive among crew members,” stated Laura K. Barger, PhD, associate physiologist in the BWH Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, and lead study author in a statement. “It’s clear that more effective measures are needed to promote adequate sleep in crew members, both during training and space flight, as sleep deficiency has been associated with performance decrements in numerous laboratory and field-based studies.”

Researchers tallied the sleeping patterns of 85 astronauts over more than 4,000 nights on Earth and more than 4,200 nights in space during 80 space shuttle missions and missions to the International Space Station.

The conclusion of the research was that “more effective countermeasures to promote sleep during space flight are needed in order to optimize human performance.”

While the U.S. space agency NASA allocates 8.5 hours of sleep per night during missions, the study revealed astronauts were only sleeping an average of less than 6 hours on shuttle missions and just over 6 hours in ISS missions.

Very few space sleep sessions lasted over 7 hours, researchers found.

But it wasn’t just in space where the astronauts slept poorly. Sleep deficiency began as much as three months before launch, with astronauts sleeping just 6.5 hours a night during pre-mission training.

The study revealed that astronauts were aware of being sleep deprived and turned to sleeping pills for help.

Three out of four ISS crew members reported using medication at some point during the mission, while roughly the same amount of shuttle crew members reported using medication more than half the nights they were in space.

Barger called the high rate of sleeping pill use concerning.

“The ability for a crew member to optimally perform if awakened from sleep by an emergency alarm may be jeopardized by the use of sleep-promoting pharmaceuticals,” said Barger, adding that most sleeping pills come with warnings about engaging in hazardous occupations while under the influence.

“This consideration is especially important because all crew members on a given mission may be under the influence of a sleep promoting medication at the same time,” she said.

You May Like

Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: yataro from: Japan
August 10, 2014 10:01 AM
Sleeping is really sensitive behavior.
When we change the sleeping place, for example traveling, it is a little hard to sleep.
By the way,I wander if the sleep promoting pills work well, because most of the astronauts can't sleep well with sleep promoting pills in this article.
so I would say that they don't have to care for jeopardizing.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More