Editor: Kris Cerone
Medical Care in
By Tina Beychok
One of the major problems astronauts experience during missions is chronic sleep loss. Studies have shown that astronauts get, on average, six hours of sleep during missions, which is less than they get back on Earth.
A team of researchers at the National Space Biomedical Research Institute is working on a solution to this problem - catnaps. They hypothesized that one major "anchor" sleep period, combined with a short nap during the day can provide the same benefits as eight hours of continual sleep on Earth. Currently, the team is trying to find what is the best combination of sleep periods for optimal effect.
Study subjects are isolated in small rooms with low-level lighting, in conditions similar to that during space flight. Brain activity, sleep, body temperature, and behavioral and mood changes are measured. Eighteen combinations of anchor sleep and naps are being looked at.
More information on this project can be found on the NSBRI Web site at: www.nsbri.org.
Tina Beychok is a medical editor and is married to OASIS
president Steve Bartlett. When not working as a space activist, she teaches
fencing at Renaissance Fairs and greatly enjoys allowing five-year-olds to
poke holes in her.
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