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Sleep and Human Performance

Sleep and Human Performance

Astronaut Tom Marshburn, Expedition 34, is wearing a sensor on his forehead to examine the hypothesis that long-term spaceflights significantly affect the synchronization of astronauts' sleep cycles due to changes caused by a non-24 hour light-dark cycle.
Courtesy of NASA.

Sleep deprivation causes many changes to the brain and body, and death results when sleep deprivation goes on too long. Even mammals that live in aquatic environments (the cetaceans) sleep. Research has shown that some of these marine mammals—such as dolphins and orca—can swim while one of their two cerebral hemispheres sleeps.

Humans and other terrestrial mammals do not have this adaptation. When they fall asleep, both cerebral hemispheres do so, which is fine if you’re already in bed, problematic if you’re in class, and very dangerous if you’re driving.

Join David F. Dinges, PhD, as he describes studies being conducted to understand and limit effects of inadquate sleep and how these problems affect both astronauts on space missions and patients on Earth.

Companion slide set to the video, "Sleep and Human Performance."

Author(s): David F. Dinges, PhD
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Sleep and Human Performance

Human Genetic Molecular "Clock"

Complex Animals Sleep and Need Sleep to Survive

Volunteer Live Laboratory Sleep Studies

Sleep Performance Laboratory

There are Differences Among People in the Duration of Sleep Needed

Sleep Latency = Sleep Propensity = Sleepiness

Brain Imaging Studies

"Sleep debt" results from sleeping less than needed to be fully alert and at your best performance.

Risk of Drowsy Driving Crashes in Adolescents/Young Adults

Funded by the following grant(s)

National Space Biomedical Research Institute

National Space Biomedical Research Institute

This work was supported by National Space Biomedical Research Institute through NASA cooperative agreement NCC 9-58.