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Ten-year study highlights sleep deficiency and sleep medication use in astronauts
Date:8/7/2014

BOSTON, MA In an extensive study of sleep monitoring and sleeping pill use in astronauts, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Colorado found that astronauts suffer considerable sleep deficiency in the weeks leading up to and during space flight. The research also highlights widespread use of sleeping medication use among astronauts.

The study, published in The Lancet Neurology on August 8, 2014, recorded more than 4,000 nights of sleep on Earth, and more than 4,200 nights in space using data from 64 astronauts on 80 Shuttle missions and 21 astronauts aboard International Space Station (ISS) missions. The 10-year study is the largest study of sleep during space flight ever conducted. The study concludes that more effective countermeasures to promote sleep during space flight are needed in order to optimize human performance.

"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. "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."

Despite NASA scheduling 8.5 hours of sleep per night for crew members in space flight, the average (mean) duration of sleep during space flight was just under six (5.96) hours on shuttle missions, and just over six hours (6.09) on ISS missions. Twelve percent of sleep episodes on shuttle missions and 24 percent on ISS missions lasted seven hours or more, as compared to 42 percent and 50 percent, respectively, in a post-flight data collection interval when most astronauts slept at home.

Moreover, the results suggest that astronauts' build-up of sleep deficiency b
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Contact: Elaine St. Peter
estpeter@partners.org
617-525-6375
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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