How Do Astronauts Sleep in Space?

The human body cannot do without sleep. Hence, astronauts in space still have to sleep in the weightless environment of space to regain their strength after engaging in complex daily tasks. However, unlike Earth where we can jump onto our bed and get a good sleep, astronauts in space are mandated to follow certain guidance to ensure that they sleep well in space. So how do astronauts sleep in space? Will space agencies improve the standard of sleeping in space in the future? Continue reading to find out.

How Astronauts started sleeping in space while floating

On 6 August 1961, Soviet Cosmonaut Gherman Titov was launched into space on board the Vostok 2 spacecraft. Since the spaceflight lasted for 25 hours, Titov slept to regain his strength during the mission. Hence, Titov became the first human to ever sleep in space.

On May 15, 1963, NASA astronaut Gordon Cooper was launched into space for the Mercury-Atlas 9 mission. That mission was the longest and last Mercury spaceflight. When Cooper arrived in space for the 34-hour mission, he began to explore the weightless environment of space. Since the mission took an entire day to accomplish, Cooper has to sleep to relax and regain some strength before returning to Earth.

He orbited the Earth about 22 times and he slept as the spacecraft moved around our home planet. After the mission, Cooper became the second person to sleep in space and also the first American to spend a whole day in space. Even though his sleeping quarters were cramped upon the completion of the mission, NASA still recorded a great success from the spaceflight.

How do astronauts sleep in space?

Astronauts in the weightless environment of space execute critical tasks that require great attention from them. Since lack of sleep can expose them to fatigue which can cause massive errors while executing critical tasks, astronauts need to get enough rest in space.

NASA reveals that astronauts go to bed at a particular time and wake up at an expected time to get ready for work. However, since space does not have up or down, but has microgravity instead, astronauts will have to adjust their sleeping style to suit the new environment. As the crew are weightless in the microgravity environment of space, they can sleep comfortably in any orientation. Astronauts can easily float around the space station if they do not attach themselves to a particular point.

The crew aboard the International Space Station have sleeping bags to keep them in check and avoid bumping into something when they sleep. These sleeping bags are located in small crew cabins. The bags are about the size of a phone booth and are tethered to the wall to prevent the crew from floating around. NASA revealed that each crew cabin is massive enough to accommodate one astronaut.

Astronauts aboard the space station sleep up to eight hours at the end of each mission day. Just like people on Earth, the crew can wake up in the middle of their sleeping hour to ease themselves or observe the beauty of our home planet through the ISS’s window. NASA noted that astronauts have reported having dreams and nightmares in their sleep. Some crews have even reported to be snoring in the weightless environment of space. This implies that astronauts share similar sleeping experiences with most of us on Earth.

How do astronauts sleep in space? NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly Shares His Personal Experience with Sleeping In Space

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly on the International Space Station shows off his personal living quarters aboard the orbiting laboratory. Scott tweeted this image out with the comment: ” My #bedroom aboard #ISS. All the comforts of #home. Well, most of them. #YearInSpace”.(Image Credit: NASA)

During a recent interview, NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly, who is a retired astronaut who has logged about 520 days in space shared his personal experience. Kelly revealed that it was quite odd for him to sleep without the comfort of a blanket and a pillow to rest his head in space.

“It felt odd,” says Kelly. “Eventually, I was sleeping with my head kind of Velcroed to a cushion, so it feels like your head is up against a pillow.”

Generally, the crew sleep quarters are provided with enough ventilation. Scientists discovered that astronauts can release carbon dioxide in space which could form a bubble around their heads. Hence, they sleep close to an air vent to prevent the risk of experiencing a lack of oxygen in their brain. Researchers have revealed that brain cells are extremely sensitive.

This implies that brain cells can begin to die in less than five minutes if they stay without oxygen. When the crew sleeps, they often wear earplugs to tackle the noise and face masks to protect them from bright light coming from the sunlight. The International Space Station travels about 17,100 miles per hour. This implies that astronauts aboard the space station can see up to 15 of 16 sunrises every day.

“Even though you have window shades on the windows, the sun in space is really bright, and it seeps through them,” Kelly said.

Will space agencies improve the standard of sleeping in space in the future?

As space agencies are embracing another phase of space exploration, the need for the development of more convenient space-sleeping technologies will arise. Currently, astronauts aboard the ISS sleep in sleeping bags tethered to the walls of the space station to protect them from floating and bumping into stuff. However, in the future, space agencies will develop more fascinating technologies to revolutionize how astronauts sleep in space.

In fact, the implementation of artificial gravity in the space station will change the way people sleep in space. Aside from artificial gravity, other futuristic technologies will likely improve the way astronauts and civilian crew sleep in space. So how do astronauts sleep in space? Space agencies are working tirelessly to make sleeping in space more fascinating in the future.

Conclusion

How do astronauts sleep in space? Space agencies provided the crew with the necessary technologies to sleep comfortably in space. A lack of sleep in space can make astronauts experience weakened immunity, poor balance, mood swings, and high blood pressure among others. However, astronauts often get enough sleep to regain their strength. What do you think about astronauts sleeping in bags in space?

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