Oct 19, 2016: The circadian rhythms in space are way different than Earth. While the sun rises and sets in 24 hour cycle in Earth, in space the sun rises and sets every 90 minutes. This destroys the settled circadian rhythms, which consequently leads to disruption of sleep patterns.
LED solution for astronaut’s sleep
Scientists have now come up with LED solutions to eliminate the issue. Researchers at the Light Research Program at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia found that sleep time in International Space Station (ISS)fall from an Earth average of eight hours to six. This may seem like a small difference. However, when it continues week after week, it may result in severe fatigue, increasing the possibility of mistakes in a seriously risky situation.
Space station gets LED lighting to improve astronaut’s sleep
Following the research, Harvard University scientists and NASA’s Johnson Space Centre are sending LED-based circadian lighting to the ISS .The research team have come up with a system of tuneable LED lights with three basic settings. The settings include pre-sleep setting to prompt sleepiness when it is time to rest, general vision for most of the day and circadian phase shifting/acute alerting as when necessary.
OnISS, there is no average day and work schedules to suit the assigned tasks. So when the astronauts are faced with such erratic work schedule, they can use the shifting/acute alerting setting of the LED lighting system to get a boost.
On the other hand, pre-sleep mode of the LED system can be chosen, which is tilted towards a blend of warm colour temperatures that relieve the mind into a calm zone, prompting easy and quick sleep.
NASA is investing US$11.4 million to get all fluorescent lights onISS to be changed to LED lights.The LED lights will arrive on the ISS soon and, the first set of lighting will be installed in the astronaut’s sleeping quarters, replacing a fluorescent system.
If the LED lights can successfully help to increase the hours of sleep in space, then it will be the strongest proof in support of the significance of circadian rhythms up till now.