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.
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Funded by the following grant(s)
This work was supported by National Space Biomedical Research Institute through NASA cooperative agreement NCC 9-58.