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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora