Humans love sleeping after a long day, we spend one-third of our life doing just that, it’s no secret that astronauts need their sleep too but aboard the international space station how does that work?
Just like on earth any worker in space goes to bed at a specific time and wakes up to begin preparing for the next day however you won’t find any standard duvet in space just imagine the storage needed for that.
How do astronauts get comfortable?
During the first spaceflights, astronauts weren’t spending enough time in space to require sleep however now that any astronaut might live at the international space station for 6 months at a time NASA began developing the optimal conditions for restful slumber in zero gravity conditions, astronauts can sleep in any direction even upside down.
On the I.S.S astronauts get ready for bed the same as anyone on earth by brushing their teeth and washing up, then they go to their sleeping quarters which is big enough for one person and includes their sleeping bag usually tethered to the wall, but it can be on the roof or ceiling.
The international space station’s time is run on GMT or Greenwich Mean Time as the ISS experiences a dawn 15 times in 24 hours while orbiting the earth at 15000mph.
Within the astronaut’s schedules they are given an 8-hour sleep period and a little time either side of this to get ready for bed and then get ready for the day ahead of them once they wake up, usually with a station-wide wakeup call or song which is begun by mission control here on earth.
A typical day for an astronaut begins with waking up of course! Those in space have the same hygiene needs as people on earth so they shave and go to the bathroom however because of zero gravity they take care of themselves in different ways.
Astronauts use a no-rinse shampoo which is used in hospitals for those unable to shower, each astronaut will have their hygiene kit including toothpaste, combs and personal preferences are considered, their hygiene kit contains most of the items selected ahead of time otherwise they are given generic products.
They then have breakfast before beginning whatever is written in their schedules, mission control sends their schedules daily after writing them during the night, these are updated regularly following actions for immediate effect and those which can be done in an orderly fashion.
While astronauts sleep if their cabin isn’t well ventilated, they can develop a bubble of carbon dioxide around their head leading to brain damage and death however if the ventilation fans aren’t muffled astronauts can’t fall asleep with that level of noise disruption and chronic sleep loss will impact anyone’s performance however in space this level of impairment can cost lives and millions of dollars’ worth of damages, sleep is vital to the long-term health of humans and NASA has worked for years to improve the lives of astronauts living and working on the international space station.