LOS ANGELES - Modern life messing with your sleep schedule? Try getting a full 8 hours in space -- or on your way to Mars. Being well-rested is essential for performing difficult tasks on Earth, but it’s absolutely life-or-death for astronauts.
The Washington Post recently talked to the head of NASA’s sleep research center and we’re not sure we’d ever get any shut eye. And it’s not just because we’re so excited about space exploration.
In space you’re weightless, so there’s the threat of your own relaxed arm floating up and hitting you in the face. Some choose to float around the chamber as they, literally, “drift off,” but most strap into special sleeping bags. On the International Space Station, crew members have individual rooms, likened to “tiny coffins.”
The “tucking in” process isn’t the only difficulty. The concept of “night and day” loses all meaning. On the space station, there’s a sunrise and sunset every 90 minutes. Your circadian rhythm can’t keep up with that.
So NASA uses different light wavelengths to regulate the astronauts’ body clocks: blue light for being awake and alert, while red light signals that it’s time to wind down. Sure, and shutting off electronics an hour before bedtime, right?
Show of unrestrained hands: are the joys of microgravity worth it? We think so.