Sleeping in zero gravity

Sleep is the natural stress buster God has gifted us with. After a long tiring day, nothing is better than resting in your bed with your favorite nap partner. But have you ever wondered how the astronauts sleep? They can’t have foundations like ours in the space, then how do they manage to sleep floating in bed? Let us discuss how they kiss the night off in space.

In the absence of gravitational force, there is no bed either up or down. Astronaut’s life is not comfortable, however adventurous it sounds, it comes with disadvantages of its own. Now with increased space activity, and heightened duration of stay, researchers have shifted their focus on providing a good night’s sleep to them and help them cope up with the sleep disorders while inside the spacecraft.   

International Space Station has been refurbished with sleeping bags to help the astronauts get proper sleep. Astronauts have to experience  16 sunrises and sunsets in a day while in space. Thus the quantity and quality of sleep get disturbed. Sleeplessness leads to mental as well as behavioral problems and National Aeronautics and Space Administration keeps it mandatory for them to sleep for 8 hours.

Sleep deprivation can lead to difficulty in performing visual, cognitive as well as operational functions. At such a vulnerable place, astronauts cannot risk this since this would affect their calculations and decision making too. To cope up with this, they are given specialized training, and the use of sleeping pills is also permitted.

The reasons behind the sleeplessness are unknown, but its effects are mainly seen. ISS is using light treatment to fight sleep deficiency in microgravity.

A rational human being in normal conditions finds it challenging to fight insomnia, how do researchers tolerate such adversities and still perform their functions with utmost sincerity is nothing less than magic. The astronauts can stay awake up to 72 hours in space because of this vast time gap. Think of the jet lag you experience when you fly from Asia to Australia, you feel so restless and find it difficult to adjust while being on the same planet; it is the vast vacuum of the space then.

Chinese Space station is working to devise a mechanism to reduce the effect of physiological factors and induce a good night’s sleep. This, if successful, can help with the mission to Mars as it is expected that rest will get more disturbed there as compare to ISS.