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

egan long before launch, as they averaged less than 6.5 hours sleep per night during the training interval occurring approximately three months prior to space flight.

The research also highlights widespread use of sleeping medications such as zolpidem and zaleplon during space flight. Three-quarters of ISS crew members reported taking sleep medication at some point during their time on the space station, and more than three-quarters (78 percent) of shuttle-mission crew members used medication on more than half (52 percent) of nights in space.

"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. "Routine use of such medications by crew members operating spacecraft are of particular concern, given the U. S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) warning that patients using sleeping pills should be cautioned against engaging in hazardous occupations requiring complete mental alertness or motor coordination, including potential impairment of performance of such activities that may occur the day following ingestion of sedative/hypnotics. 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."

Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD, FRCP, chief, BWH Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, and senior study author, adds: "Future exploration spaceflight missions to the moon, Mars or beyond will require development of more effective countermeasures to promote sleep during spaceflight in order to optimize human performance. These measures may include scheduling modifications, strategically timed exposure to specific wavelengths of light, and behavioral strategies to ensure adequate sleep, which is essential for maintaining health, performance and safety."


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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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