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Sleep Environment Recommendations for Future Spaceflight Vehicles

  • San Jose State University Research Foundation/NASA Ames Research Center


Evidence from spaceflight and ground-based missions demonstrate that sleep loss and circadian desynchronization occur among astronauts, leading to reduced performance and, increased risk of injuries and accidents. We conducted a comprehensive literature review to determine the optimal sleep environment for lighting, temperature, airflow, humidity, comfort, noise, privacy and security in the sleep environment. We reviewed the design and use of sleep environments in a wide range of cohorts including among aquanauts, expeditioners, pilots, military personnel, and ship operators. We also reviewed sleep quality from every NASA spaceflight mission. We found that the optimal sleep environment is cool, dark, quiet, and is perceived as safe and private. There are wide individual differences in the preferred sleep environment; therefore modifiable sleeping compartments are necessary to ensure all crewmembers are able to select personalized configurations for optimal sleep. We provide recommendations to aid in the design of deep space sleep chambers.
Sleep Environment Recommendations for Future
Spaceflight Vehicles
Zachary A. Caddick1, Kevin Gregory1, and Erin E. Flynn-Evans2
1San Jose State University Research Foundation, San Jose CA, USA and
2NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field CA, USA {}
Abstract. Evidence from spaceflight and ground-based missions demonstrate that
sleep loss and circadian desynchronization occur among astronauts, leading to
reduced performance and, increased risk of injuries and accidents. We conducted a
comprehensive literature review to determine the optimal sleep environment for
lighting, temperature, airflow, humidity, comfort, intermittent and erratic sounds,
privacy and security in the sleep environment. We reviewed the design and use of
sleep environments in a wide range of cohorts including among aquanauts,
expeditioners, pilots, military personnel, and ship operators. We also reviewed the
specifications and sleep quality data arising from every NASA spaceflight mission,
beginning with Gemini. We found that the optimal sleep environment is cool, dark,
quiet, and is perceived as safe and private. There are wide individual differences in
the preferred sleep environment; therefore modifiable sleeping compartments are
necessary to ensure all crewmembers are able to select personalized configurations
for optimal sleep.
Keywords: Extreme Environments · Habitability · Human Factors · Sleep
1 Introduction
Sleep quality -- including the ability to fall asleep and remain asleep -- and sleep duration
are dependent upon circadian phase, length of prior wake duration, and time within the
sleep episode [1-3]. Proper alignment of scheduled sleep episodes to the circadian
pacemaker is important for sleep consolidation and sleep structure [4-5]. High sleep
efficiency is best maintained for eight hours when sleep is initiated approximately six
hours before the endogenous circadian minimum of core body temperature [4-5]. This
phase relationship between the rest-activity cycle and the endogenous circadian timing
system implies that even small circadian phase delays of the sleep propensity rhythm with
respect to the rest-activity schedule can result in sleep onset insomnia or substantial wake
after sleep onset.
In order to quantify the impact of a sub-optimal sleep environment on sleep quality
and duration, it is important to measure sleep outcomes when sleep is appropriately timed
relative to the circadian and homeostatic drives for sleep. It is possible for an individual to
experience sleep disruption in an optimal sleep environment due to the imposed sleep
schedule. Similarly, it is possible for an individual to experience high sleep efficiency in a
sub-optimal sleep environment when accumulated sleep debt is present, which dampens
the arousal threshold. Our aim was to compile the evidence associated with sleep
disruption due to controllable, environmental stimuli in order to aid NASA engineers and
operational personnel in the optimal design of crew sleep accommodations for deep
2 Methods
We conducted a comprehensive literature review summarizing optimal sleep hygiene
parameters for lighting, temperature, airflow, humidity, comfort, intermittent and erratic
sounds, privacy and security in the sleep environment. We reviewed the design and use of
sleep environments in a wide range of cohorts including among aquanauts, expeditioners,
pilots, military personnel and ship operators. We also reviewed the specifications and
sleep quality data arising from every NASA spaceflight mission, beginning with Gemini.
3 Recommendations
The sleep environment required for long duration missions will differ from the sleep
accommodations that NASA has developed in the past. Our review revealed several
modifications that will be important to make in order to ensure that deep space crews have
sleep environments that will provide them with quality sleep.
3.1 Sleep Chamber Location
The location of the sleep station within the vehicle is key to reducing noise and light
pollution. Noise emanating from common areas has been shown to be disruptive to sleep
[6-7]. Given that there are individual differences in sleep timing preference, it is likely
that some crew will chose to be awake, while others are asleep [8-9]. In order to ensure
that morning-types and evening-types are both afforded adequate rest, it is desirable to
position crew quarters away from the galley area and exercise machinery. We also found
that individuals living in a variety isolated and confined environments reported
experiencing sleep disruption due to other crewmembers using the waste management
system during sleep episodes [9-11]. Therefore, the waste management system should be
located far enough away from sleeping quarters that noise is buffered, but close enough
that crewmembers are able to quickly access the facility and return to sleep without
having to travel too far. It may be appropriate to locate waste management facilities in a
module adjacent to the sleep stations.
It is likely that watch schedules will be necessary during deep space missions. We
found that in the early history of human spaceflight, watch schedules were very disruptive
to sleeping crewmembers due to the close proximity of the sleeping crewmember to the
“on watch” crewmember [12]. According to studies of military personnel and pilots,
locating the sleep chambers for off-duty crewmembers away from the command and
communication area is desirable [11, 13-15]. However, the sleep chambers should be
positioned near enough to the vehicle command center that crewmembers may quickly
respond in an emergency situation [11].
3.2 Privacy
It is imperative that each crewmember is provided with a private sleep chamber for the
duration of the mission. We found that shared sleep spaces and common bunkrooms are
associated with frequent sleep disruption due to other crewmembers [13]. The practice of
“hot bunking” has been virtually eliminated from all occupations that we evaluated due to
hygiene concerns and the impact that hot bunking has on psychological mood and health
[13, 16]. We found that individuals view their sleep location not just as a place for sleep,
but also as a space for privacy [7, 14, 16-25]. Access to a private space is viewed as
critical to the psychological well-being of individuals living in isolated and confined
environments [26]. Similarly, provision for storage of personal items within the sleep
chamber was viewed as highly desirable [9, 27]. The sleep chambers for deep space
vehicles should also allow crewmembers to customize the space with personal items and
reconfiguration of stowage compartments [9].
There have been situations where crewmembers have been displaced from private
quarters during spaceflight missions [28]. In these situations it is very difficult for the
displaced individuals to obtain adequate sleep [29-31]. Given that the loss of a sleep
chamber would likely also be associated with a breach of the spaceflight vehicle, the
resulting anxiety may further reduce crewmember sleep quality and quantity. As a result,
it is possible that the loss of a sleep chamber could greatly impact the physical and
psychological health of crewmembers at a time when successful performance of duties is
essential. Given the importance of sleep in conferring fitness for duty, future crew
vehicles should include back up, deployable sleep chambers in order to ensure that
individuals have access to a private sleep environment throughout the mission.
3.3 Habitable Volume
The crew quarters that are presently on ISS appear to provide enough habitable volume
for crewmembers to move as desired during sleep [32-33]. We found one case where a
crewmember was too large to fit in the assigned sleep chamber during spaceflight [34].
Although it may be necessary to design all sleep chambers and sleeping bags to the same
standard, it is important to consider that larger crewmembers will have less habitable
volume relative to smaller crewmembers. As such, it is important to ensure that the
crewmembers selected for a deep space mission are able to evaluate the size of the sleep
stations in advance of the mission. It may also be desirable to design two sizes for the
sleep stations to accommodate larger and smaller crewmembers.
The optimal sleep environment for a planetary excursion will be necessarily different
from the optimal sleep environment for spaceflight. During a long duration planetary
excursion, larger crew quarters are necessary due to the comparatively reduced habitable
space available in a partial gravity environment. We found that individuals living in
isolated and confined environments on Earth use their sleep rooms as a place for privacy
and to work in addition to sleep [7, 27, 35]. As a result, the crew rooms on a planetary
excursion should include space for a bed (placed horizontally on the floor), a desk and
storage of personal belongings. The use of bunkrooms or shared sleep spaces is only
appropriate for a short-duration planetary excursion. In these cases, bunks or cots may be
used to accommodate crewmembers [7]; however, even during such short excursions
private crew quarters would be preferable [27].
3.4 Light
Sleep chambers in spaceflight and on the ground must include features that protect
individuals from being awoken by external forces such as light, noise, inadequate
temperature and poor air quality. Light is the primary resetting cue for the human
circadian pacemaker [36]. Exposure to light at inappropriate times leads to circadian
misalignment, which causes sleep disruption [37]. Similarly, exposure to light is alerting
and suppresses the drive to sleep [38]. The intensity, spectra, duration, and timing of light
determine the magnitude and direction of phase shifting and potency of acute alerting
[39]. All wavelengths of light have a negative impact on sleep, but blue light elicits the
strongest effect due to the stimulation of intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells
[38]. Exposure to green light is capable of enhancing alertness and suppressing sleep [38],
while exposure to red light has the weakest effect on alertness and circadian phase shifting
[40]. Evidence from the laboratory, field and subject matter experts support the notion that
exposure to light during sleep episodes is disruptive to sleep quality and quantity [12-14,
29, 41-49]. Based on this evidence, all light should be eliminated from the sleep
environment. If indicator lights are necessary for identifying egress points, then they
should be dim and red [40].
There is strong evidence to suggest that individuals living in isolated and confined
environments away from typical solar light dark cues are prone to circadian desynchrony
due to self-selecting inappropriate patterns of light exposure [8, 50-54]. This circadian
misalignment leads to individuals experiencing a drive to sleep during scheduled wake
and an inability to sleep during scheduled sleep opportunities. In order to preserve a stable
24-hour pattern of work and sleep among the crewmembers, it may be desirable to
provide a strong cycling of light and darkness in common spaces to mimic the solar light
dark cycle and help crewmembers maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule and circadian
entrainment [55-56]. However, if such a strategy is utilized, it is important that
crewmembers maintain some autonomy in controlling dimmer, personal lighting as would
be the case at home on Earth. Similarly, crewmembers scheduled to be on night watch
may benefit from supplemental lighting in the vehicle command center in order to
enhance alertness and performance [57].
3.5 Noise
Noise is ever-present on space vehicles. We found that noise has been a major cause of
sleep disruption throughout the history of spaceflight [12, 19, 29, 58]. The current
guidelines allow for exposure to continuous noise above the WHO recommended
guidelines [33, 59]. In addition, the current NASA guidelines do not provide mitigations
against impulsive or intermittent noise [33]. We found that exposure to intermittent noise
is at least as disruptive to sleep as continuous noise exposure [11-12, 15, 19, 29, 58, 60-
61]. Given this evidence, exposure to noise be limited to below 35 dB, because exposure
to noise above this level is associated with a reduction in sleep quality and quantity, even
when individuals do not wake fully [59]. In addition, intermittent noise should be
minimized, so that it does not vary beyond 5 dB from background noise levels. There is
some evidence to suggest that exposure to continuous white noise less than 25 dB is
sufficient to mask intermittent noises [62], therefore it is desirable to allow crewmembers
access to white noise in their sleep chamber if desired. Earplugs and/or noise canceling
headphones should also be made available for crewmembers [63]. Due to crewmember
concerns about missing alarms while wearing earplugs, it may be desirable to develop
multi-sensory alarms that include auditory and visual stimulation [64-66].
3.6 Temperature and Humidity
The ambient temperature on early space vehicles varied widely. For optimal sleep, an
individual needs to reach his or her thermoneutral equilibrium and should have sufficient
bedding available to create a microclimate of between 25-35˚C (77-95˚F) [67-68]. Given
that there are wide individual differences in the optimal temperature for sleep, the sleep
environment on future space vehicles should be cool, but there should be sufficient
insulation available for crewmembers to modify their environment to suit individual
preferences [69-71]. This may mean providing crewmembers with sleeping bags of
different thicknesses, or a mechanism for layering sleeping bags together. It is also
desirable for sleeping bags to include vents to release heat, because the human core body
temperature falls and rises during a typical sleep episode [72]. Warming of proximal and
distal skin temperature has been associated with faster sleep onset [73-75] and
crewmembers have reported having difficulty sleeping due to cold feet and hands [19, 34],
therefore providing a way for crewmembers to warm their extremities prior to sleep may
be desirable.
The level of humidity in the environment can also influence sleep quality and quantity.
The optimal humidity range for human health is between 40-60% [19]. The presence of
humidity in the environment changes the perceived temperature. Higher humidity, with
high temperatures are disruptive to sleep [76]. Therefore, lower humidity of 50-60% is
optimal for sleep, particularly when ambient temperature is increased.
3.7 Air Quality
The optimal ambient gas mixture for sleep is equivalent to the air experienced at sea level
on Earth (78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 1% other gases) [16, 21, 77-86]. Similarly, the
optimal air pressure during sleep is equivalent to the pressure on the Earth at sea level [87-
88]. Air mixtures that deviate from these conditions, such as what mountaineers
experience during expeditions, results in disrupted sleep and periodic breathing [80, 82,
84, 88-90]. In depressurized environments, such as at elevation on Earth, supplemental
oxygen can reduce headaches, periodic breathing, and can improve sleep outcomes [91-
92]. Airflow is also associated with positive sleep outcomes and aids in the reduction of
O2 [85, 93] and intrusive odors, such as body odor, food, and mechanical smells [12, 34,
85]. Although there is little information on the impact of air pollution and particulates on
sleep quality and quantity, reports from lunar expeditions suggest that dust from planetary
extra vehicular activities may build up in the habitable environment [29, 34]. As a result,
the vents providing airflow to crew sleep chambers should include air filters to protect
against crewmembers breathing particulate matter and dust during sleep.
3.8 Involuntary Movement
Involuntary movement due to turbulence is associated with sleep disruption [94].
Therefore, vehicle movement and vibration should be minimized as much as possible.
Similarly, the microgravity environment results in the potential for crewmembers to free-
float during sleep episodes. Although some crewmembers have reported that they enjoyed
that experience, other crewmembers have reported that they prefer to be restrained while
sleeping [95]. Given that some individuals may not use harnesses and other attachments,
they should be designed, so that they can be removed or secured out of place when not in
use. Similarly, separate attachments should be available to secure the sleeping bag to the
wall of the sleep chamber if desired.
3.9 Summary
Although we present evidence to support the design of future space vehicles, it is possible
that new information will be revealed in the future. NASA supports a great deal of studies
in analog and spaceflight environments. As new information becomes available
recommendations may evolve and change. Such information should help to further define
the optimal sleep environment for deep space transit.
In summary, sleep is critical to crewmember health and performance. In order for
crewmembers to achieve optimal sleep, they must be provided with a sleep environment
that allows them to achieve quality sleep, free of external disruption. We found that the
optimal sleep environment is cool, dark, quiet, and is perceived as safe and private. There
are wide individual differences in the preferred sleep environment; therefore modifiable
sleeping compartments are necessary to ensure all crewmembers are able to select
personalized configurations for optimal sleep. A sub-optimal sleep environment is
tolerable for only a limited time, therefore individual sleeping quarters should be designed
for long duration missions. In a confined space, the sleep environment serves a dual
purpose as a place to sleep, but also as a place for storing personal items and as a place for
privacy during non-sleep times. This need for privacy during sleep and wake appears to be
critically important to the psychological well being of crewmembers on long duration
missions. Designing sleep chambers for optimal sleep health should produce benefits
beyond simply improving sleep quality and quantity on long duration missions.
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... The annual increase in the brightness of the night sky will not fall below 3%, and at this rate, it will double within 23 years [3]. Since 1973, Kurt has defined light pollution as unwanted sky light produced by man as a result of population growth and increased outdoor illumination per capita [4], which contains several aspects: the intensity, spectra, duration and timing of light [5,6]. ...
... Before efficient mitigation policies can be developed, it is essential to analyze the spatial distribution of light pollution and to quantify its damages [20]. Current research about light pollution mainly focuses on two aspects, the intensity and spectra [6], and the result shows that the spectra may have greater influence on residents [21]. However, with the prevalent use of electronic screens, scrolling and showing videos and advertisements in metropolises like Beijing, it is hard to quantify the wavelength and its effect in a real city even at a street scale. ...
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Outdoor lighting is becoming increasingly widespread, and residents are suffering from serious light pollution as a result. Residents' awareness of their rights to protection has gradually increased. However, due to the sometimes-inaccessible nature of residential vertical light incidence intensity data and the high cost of obtaining specific measurements, there is no appropriate hierarchic compensation for residents suffering from different degrees of light pollution. It is therefore important to measure light pollution levels and their damage at the neighborhood scale to provide residents with basic materials for proper protection and to create more politically-suitable solutions. This article presents a light pollution assessment method that is easy to perform, is low-cost and has a short data-processing cycle. This method can be used to monitor residential zone light pollution in other cities. We chose three open areas to test the spatial variation pattern of light intensity. The results are in accordance with spatial interpolation patterns and can be fit, with high precision, using the inverse distance weighted interpolation (IDW) method. This approach can also be used in three dimensions to quantitatively evaluate the distribution of light intensity. We use a mixed-use zone in Beijing known as The Place as our case study area. The vertical illumination at the windows of residential buildings ranges from 2 lux to 23 lux; the illumination in some areas is far higher than the value recommended by CIE. Such severe light pollution can seriously interfere with people's daily lives and has a serious influence on their rest and health. The results of this survey will serve as an important database to assess whether the planning of night-time lighting is scientific, and it will help protect the rights of residents and establish distinguished compensation mechanisms for light pollution.
... Long periods of isolation can result in several psychosocial stressors that have negative impacts on both performance and behavior [14]. Some studies show that exposure to ICE environments has negative impacts on sleep, which in turn causes additional stress and mental health challenges and affects performance to perform tasks during missions [15]. Risks associated with isolation are not limited to psychological or physiological effects, as structural changes were also shown to occur in the brain. ...
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Extended exposure to radiation, microgravity, and isolation during space exploration has significant physiological, structural, and psychosocial effects on astronauts, and particularly their central nervous system. To date, the use of brain monitoring techniques adopted on Earth in pre/post-spaceflight experimental protocols has proven to be valuable for investigating the effects of space travel on the brain. However, future (longer) deep space travel would require some brain function monitoring equipment to be also available for evaluating and monitoring brain health during spaceflight. Here, we describe the impact of spaceflight on the brain, the basic principles behind six brain function analysis technologies, their current use associated with spaceflight, and their potential for utilization during deep space exploration. We suggest that, while the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and computerized tomography (CT) is limited to analog and pre/post-spaceflight studies on Earth, electroencephalography (EEG), functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), and ultrasound are good candidates to be adapted for utilization in the context of deep space exploration.
... As for the light, since it represents the main stimulus of the circadian rhythms, its excessive exposure may then lead to a deep alteration of the latter. Therefore, it has been suggested how either its removal from the settings and the spaces dedicated to sleep or the creation of an environment where alternating light and dark in the spaces shared by the astronauts may be desirable (Caddick et al., 2017). Excessive exposure to noise, mainly due to the equipment and the crew activities, may represent a further stress factor for cosmonauts. ...
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Space travel, a topic of global interest, has always been a fascinating matter, as its potential appears to be infinite. The development of advanced technologies has made it possible to achieve objectives previously considered dreams and to widen more and more the limits that the human species can overcome. The dangers that astronauts may face are not minimal, and the impacts on physical and mental health may be significant. Specifically, symptoms of emotional dysregulation, cognitive dysfunction, disruption of sleep-wake rhythms, visual phenomena and significant changes in body weight, along with morphological brain changes, are some of the most frequently reported occurrences during space missions. Given the renewed interest and investment on space explorations, the aim of this paper was thus to summarize the evidence of the currently available literature, and to offer an overview of the factors that might impair the psychological well-being and mental health of astronauts. To achieve the goal of this paper, the authors accessed some of the main databases of scientific literature and collected evidence from articles that successfully fulfilled the purpose of this work. The results of this review demonstrated how the psychological and psychiatric problems occurring during space missions are manifold and related to a multiplicity of variables, thus requiring further attention from the scientific community as new challenges lie ahead, and prevention of mental health of space travelers should be carefully considered.
... Therefore, it has been suggested to remove the light from the settings and the spaces dedicated to sleep, or to create an environment with alternating light and dark in the spaces shared by the astronauts. 35 Excessive exposure to noise, mainly due to the equipment and the crew activities, may represent another stressor compromising wakefulness and sleeping, so that cosmonauts have been instructed to wear protection devices. 36 Whole-body vibration may represent another harmful factor due to the risk of spinal and extremity injuries. ...
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Exploring space is one of the most attractive goals that humanity ever set, notwithstanding, there are some psychological and psychopathological risks that should be considered. Several studies identified some possible hazards of space travels and related physical and psychological consequences on astronauts. If some psychological reactions are obviously inherent to the characteristics of the spaceships (habitability, confinement, psychological, and interpersonal relationships), other (disturbances of sleep-wake cycle, personality changes, depression, anxiety, apathy, psychosomatic symptoms, neurovestibular problems, alterations in cognitive function, and sensory perception) represent a clear warning of possible central nervous system (CNS) alterations, possibly due to microgravity and cosmic radiation. Such conditions and eventual CNS changes might compromise the success of missions and the ability to cope with unexpected events and may lead to individual and long-term impairments. Therefore, further studies are needed, perhaps, requiring the birth of a novel branch of psychology/psychiatry that should not only consider the risks related to space exploration, but the implementation of targeted strategies to prevent them.
The revolution of technologically advanced vehicles with a high level of automation involves a profound transformation. The focus of most research in this area has been on the use of travel time for different use cases. Sleeping is one of the most time-consuming activities in everyone's life; therefore, this has been described as one of the most desired use cases for fully automated vehicles. In order to identify the best conditions to allow sleep and improve sleep quality while travelling in such vehicles, two studies were performed: a sleep study and a pressure distribution study, the results of which are included in this document. The focus of both studies was on two seat positions: reclined (60° backrest recline) and flat (87° backrest recline). In the sleep study, forty participants had the opportunity to sleep during a 90-min drive in order to evaluate long-term comfort and subjective sleep quantity and quality. Although both positions resulted in generally similar results in terms of sleep and comfort, some significant differences were identified. Karolinska Sleepiness Scale results showed that sleepiness increased in the reclined position, whereas it decreased in the flat position. Moreover, the self-reported parameter Wake After Sleep Onset was higher in the reclined position. In the pressure distribution study, it was possible to identify specific seat prototype limitations indicating inadequate support, which was related to discomfort detected during the sleep study. As a conclusion, the comparison between the reclined and flat positions showed indications that, in moving fully automated vehicles, the flat seat position is the most comfortable and effective for sleeping.
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During staffed space flight missions, the astronauts' circadian timing system and sleep are altered not only due to the microgravity environment but also due to the intense environmental stimulus. Loss of sleep during the preflight, flight, and postflight periods are commonly reported by the space crew. Long periods of enforced wakefulness and poor quality of sleep or insomnia result in fatigue, impaired cognition, and decreased alertness leading to psychological dysfunctions, neurobehav-ioral performance decrement among astronauts. These may ultimately result in loss of critical thinking and decision-making capabilities, and cause an increased risk of injuries and accidents. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has established a Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) in 2019 for undertaking a manned space flight. The success of this interplanetary mission would depend on dedicated and collaboratory efforts of experts from multiple disciplines, including psychology, biology, and medical sciences, apart from experienced engineers and technicians. It is also pertinent to ask whether HSFC of ISRO will have inputs from experts in biological science and whether India will undertake its first manned orbital space flight without conducting a trial run with a trained animal. It is pivotal that ISRO establishes a dedicated Advanced Concepts Team that has expertise in sleep, biological rhythms, and fatigue countermeasures, to support its missions.
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Lunar habitation and exploration of space beyond low-Earth orbit will require small crews to live in isolation and confinement while maintaining a high level of performance with limited support from mission control. Astronauts only achieve approximately 6 h of sleep per night, but few studies have linked sleep deficiency in space to performance impairment. We studied crewmembers over 45 days during a simulated space mission that included 5 h of sleep opportunity on weekdays and 8 h of sleep on weekends to characterize changes in performance on the psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) and subjective fatigue ratings. We further evaluated how well bio-mathematical models designed to predict performance changes due to sleep loss compared to objective performance. We studied 20 individuals during five missions and found that objective performance, but not subjective fatigue, declined from the beginning to the end of the mission. We found that bio-mathematical models were able to predict average changes across the mission but were less sensitive at predicting individual-level performance. Our findings suggest that sleep should be prioritized in lunar crews to minimize the potential for performance errors. Bio-mathematical models may be useful for aiding crews in schedule design but not for individual-level fitness-for-duty decisions.
Early in the history of human space flight, scientists realized that several factors in the space environment may adversely affect human function and performance. Among the principal concerns expressed were potential disturbances in circadian rhythms and the subsequent effects on performance and well-being. In addition to environmental changes such as microgravity and a sunrise and sunset every 45 minutes in low Earth orbit, several operational reasons were cited for the possible development of sleep disturbances and fatigue during space flight. Over the years, spaceflight investigations have confirmed that sleep disruption and circadian desynchrony are regular occurrences before and during missions, while terrestrial studies have increasingly shown that circadian desynchrony and sleep disruption carry serious health and performance implications. As a result, serious potential consequences remain associated with these risks.
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The effects of hypobaric hypoxia upon the electrophysiologica-ly assessed sleep of four male and four female subjects-18-29 years old-were measured during two successive nights at 493 torr (3500 m) in a hypobaric chamber. Five subjects experienced varied levels of acute mountain sickness (AMS). Sleep disturbance was primarily manifested as "insomnia" in two subjects experiencing higher levels of AMS. Relatively normal amounts of synchronized sleep were observed at 493 torr, implying the occurrence of sleep hypoventilation.
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Sleep deficiency and the use of sleep-promoting medication are prevalent during spaceflight. Operations frequently dictate work during the biological night and sleep during the biological day, which contribute to circadian misalignment. We investigated whether circadian misalignment was associated with adverse sleep outcomes before (preflight) and during spaceflight missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Actigraphy and photometry data for 21 astronauts were collected over 3,248 days of long-duration spaceflight on the ISS and 11 days prior to launch (n=231 days). Sleep logs, collected one out of every 3 weeks in flight and daily on Earth, were used to determine medication use and subjective ratings of sleep quality. Actigraphy and photometry data were processed using Circadian Performance Simulation Software to calculate the estimated endogenous circadian temperature minimum. Sleep episodes were classified as aligned or misaligned relative to the estimated endogenous circadian temperature minimum. Mixed-effects regression models accounting for repeated measures were computed by data collection interval (preflight, flight) and circadian alignment status. The estimated endogenous circadian temperature minimum occurred outside sleep episodes on 13% of sleep episodes during preflight and on 19% of sleep episodes during spaceflight. The mean sleep duration in low-Earth orbit on the ISS was 6.4±1.2 h during aligned and 5.4±1.4 h (P<0.01) during misaligned sleep episodes. During aligned sleep episodes, astronauts rated their sleep quality as significantly better than during misaligned sleep episodes (66.8±17.7 vs. 60.2±21.0, P<0.01). Sleep-promoting medication use was significantly higher during misaligned (24%) compared with aligned (11%) sleep episodes (P<0.01). Use of any medication was significantly higher on days when sleep episodes were misaligned (63%) compared with when sleep episodes were aligned (49%; P<0.01). Circadian misalignment is associated with sleep deficiency and increased medication use during spaceflight. These findings suggest that there is an immediate need to deploy and assess effective countermeasures to minimize circadian misalignment and consequent adverse sleep outcomes both before and during spaceflight.
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The effects of bedroom air quality on sleep and next-day performance were examined in two field intervention experiments in single-occupancy student dormitory rooms. The occupants, half of them women, could adjust an electric heater to maintain thermal comfort but they experienced two bedroom ventilation conditions, each maintained for one week, in balanced order. In the initial pilot experiment (N=14) bedroom ventilation was changed by opening a window (the resulting average CO2 level was 2585 or 660 ppm). In the second experiment (N=16) an inaudible fan in the air intake vent was either disabled or operated whenever CO2 levels exceeded 900 ppm (the resulting average CO2 level was 2395 or 835 ppm). Bedroom air temperatures varied over a wide range but did not differ between ventilation conditions. Sleep was assessed from movement data recorded on wristwatch-type actigraphs and subjects reported their perceptions and their well-being each morning using online questionnaires. Two tests of next-day mental performance were applied. Objectively measured sleep quality and the perceived freshness of bedroom air improved significantly when the CO2 level was lower, as did next-day reported sleepiness and ability to concentrate and the subjects' performance of a test of logical thinking. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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INTRODUCTION: Environmental motion can affect shipboard sleep of crewmembers. Slamming and similar harsh motion may interfere with sleep, whereas mild motion and sopite syndrome may enhance sleep. If sleep needs vary by sea condition, this factor should be considered when assessing human performance at sea. The goal of this study was to assess sleep duration in different sea conditions. METHODS: Crewmembers (N = 52) from a U.S. Navy vessel participated in the study while performing their normal daily schedule of duties. Sleep was assessed with wrist-worn actigraphy. Motion sickness and sopite syndrome were assessed using standardized questionnaires. RESULTS: In rough sea conditions, crewmembers experienced increased severity of motion sickness and sopite syndrome compared to their ratings during calmer sea conditions. Crewmembers slept significantly longer during sea state 5-6 compared to sleep on days with sea state 4 (25% increase) and sea state 3-4 (30% increase). Specifically, daily sleep increased from 6.97 ± 1.24 h in sea state 3-4, to 7.23 ± 1.65 h in sea state 4, to 9.04 ± 2.90 h in sea state 5–6. DISCUSSION: Although the duration of sleep in rough seas increased significantly compared to calmer sea conditions, causal factors are inconclusive. Accumulated sleep debt, motion-induced fatigue, and sopite syndrome all may have contributed, but results suggest that motion sickness and sopite syndrome were the predominant stressors. If sleep needs increase in severe motion environments, this factor should be taken into account when developing daily activity schedules or when modeling manning requirements on modern ships.
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United States Navy submariners have historically lived with circadian disruption while at sea due to 18-h-based watchschedules. Previous research demonstrated that circadian entrainment improved with 24-h-based watchschedules. Twenty-nine male crew members participated in the study, which took place on an actual submarine patrol. The crew were exposed, first, to experimental high correlated color temperature (CCT = 13,500 K) fluorescent light sources and then to standard-issue fluorescent light sources (CCT = 4100 K). A variety of outcome measures were employed to determine if higher levels of circadian-effective light during on-watch times would further promote behavioral alignment to 24-h-based watchschedules. The high CCT light source produced significantly higher circadian light exposures than the low CCT light source, which was associated with significantly greater 24-h behavioral alignment with work schedules using phasor analysis, greater levels of sleep efficiency measured with wrist actigraphy, lower levels of subjective sleepiness measured with the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale, and higher nighttime melatonin concentrations measured by morning urinary 6-sulfatoxymelatonin/creatinine ratios. Unlike these diverse outcome measures, performance scores were significantly worse under the high CCT light source than under the low CCT light source, due to practice effects. As hypothesized, with the exception of the performance scores, all of the data converge to suggest that high CCT light sources, combined with 24-h watchschedules, promote better behavioral alignment with work schedules and greater sleep quality on submarines. Since the order and the type of light sources were confounded in this field study, the results should only be considered as consistent with our theoretical understanding of how regular, 24-h light-dark exposures combined with high circadian light exposures can promote greater behavioral alignment with work schedules and with sleep.
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Circadian rhythm disturbances parallel the increased prevalence of sleep disorders in older adults. Light therapies that specifically target regulation of the circadian system in principle could be used to treat sleep disorders in this population. Current recommendations for light treatment require the patients to sit in front of a bright light box for at least 1 hour daily, perhaps limiting their willingness to comply. Light applied through closed eyelids during sleep might not only be efficacious for changing circadian phase but also lead to better compliance because patients would receive light treatment while sleeping. Reported here are the results of two studies investigating the impact of a train of 480 nm (blue) light pulses presented to the retina through closed eyelids on melatonin suppression (laboratory study) and on delaying circadian phase (field study). Both studies employed a sleep mask that provided narrowband blue light pulses of 2-second duration every 30 seconds from arrays of light-emitting diodes. The results of the laboratory study demonstrated that the blue light pulses significantly suppressed melatonin by an amount similar to that previously shown in the same protocol at half the frequency (ie, one 2-second pulse every minute for 1 hour). The results of the field study demonstrated that blue light pulses given early in the sleep episode significantly delayed circadian phase in older adults; these results are the first to demonstrate the efficacy and practicality of light treatment by a sleep mask aimed at adjusting circadian phase in a home setting.
The International Space Station (ISS) United States Operational Segment (USOS) currently provides a Temporary Sleep Station (TeSS) as crew quarters for one crewmember in the Laboratory Module. The Russian Segment provides permanent crew quarters (Kayutas) for two crewmembers in the Service Module. The TeSS provides limited electrical, communication, and ventilation functionality. A new permanent rack sized USOS ISS Crew Quarters (CQ) is being developed. Up to four CQs can be installed into the Node 2 element to increase the ISS crewmember size to six. The new CQs will provide private crewmember space with enhanced acoustic noise mitigation, integrated radiation reduction material, controllable airflow, communication equipment, redundant electrical systems, and redundant caution and warning systems. The rack sized CQ is a system with multiple crewmember restraints, adjustable lighting, controllable ventilation, and interfaces that allow each crewmember to personalize their CQ workspace. Providing an acoustically quiet and visually isolated environment, while ensuring crewmember safety, is critical for crewmember rest and comfort to enable long term crewmember performance. The numerous human factor, engineering, and program considerations during the concept, design, and prototyping are outlined in the paper.