Astronauts, Body Clock and Sleep

Astronauts, Body Clock and Sleep

NASA, responding to an epidemic of insomnia, is ready to give the International Space Station (ISS) an LED makeover.

Sleep and the sun are two essential components needed by our bodies to maintain a healthy and vibrant lifestyle. Inadequate sleep in particular can leave us feeling exhausted; impacting our mood, productivity and overall quality of life. The light from the sun helps to time our sleep and wake patterns but if you work in a restricted environment with limited sun light you may find yourself unable to sleep when you want to. Don’t despair as there are options to help you get the light you need and reduce the negative impacts of inadequate sleep.

Sunlight on our eyes naturally times our sleep and wake patterns but with sun safety concerns and long periods of time spent indoors working, 1 in 10 of us are not getting the light we need. For astronauts orbiting the earth, these feelings are intensified and the lack of sun can lead to chronic insomnia. Whist most of us have the option to move away from our desks and go outside, astronauts work in a restricted environment. In response, NASA has announced a US $12million program to combat this issue.

GizMag reported that “It (insomnia) can cause lower performance, decreased memory, and even sickness. So, if you spend your life orbiting Earth on a $150B spacecraft, you’re going to take sleep seriously. NASA, responding to an epidemic of insomnia, is ready to give the International Space Station (ISS) an LED makeover.

Living in the noisy, high-pressure ISS makes sleep difficult. The result: roughly half of all astronauts, at some point, take sleep medication. It’s a quick fix, but it can cause dependency and inhibit astronauts’ ability to wake up suddenly for an emergency. You don’t want zombie-like astronauts, but you also don’t want drug-addicted ones.

The lights, set to be installed by 2016, simulate nature: blue in the morning, white during the day, and red in the evening.”

Research from sleep scientists in Australia has suggested that green light (500nm wavelength) is the most effective wavelength for syncing the body clock. This is due to its ability to suppress melatonin levels, the key physiological response required for effective insomnia treatment.

So whether you’re an astronaut or someone that’s spending too much time in the office, the Re-Timer can help you get the light you need and reduce the negative impacts of inadequate sleep.