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Countermeasures to Neurobehavioral Deficits from Cumulative Partial Sleep Deprivation During Space FlightThis project is concerned with identifying ways to prevent neurobehavioral and physical deterioration due to inadequate sleep in astronauts during long-duration manned space flight. The performance capability of astronauts during extended-duration space flight depends heavily on achieving recovery through adequate sleep. Even with appropriate circadian alignment, sleep loss can erode fundamental elements of human performance capability including vigilance, cognitive speed and accuracy, working memory, reaction time, and physiological alertness. Adequate sleep is essential during manned space flight not only to ensure high levels of safe and effective human performance, but also as a basic regulatory biology critical to healthy human functioning. There is now extensive objective evidence that astronaut sleep is frequently restricted in space flight to averages between 4 hr and 6.5 hr/day. Chronic sleep restriction during manned space flight can occur in response to endogenous disturbances of sleep (motion sickness, stress, circadian rhythms), environmental disruptions of sleep (noise, temperature, light), and curtailment of sleep due to the work demands and other activities that accompany extended space flight operations. The mechanism through which this risk emerges is the development of cumulative homeostatic pressure for sleep across consecutive days of inadequate sleep. Research has shown that the physiological sleepiness and performance deficits engendered by sleep debt can progressively worsen (i.e., accumulate) over consecutive days of sleep restriction, and that sleep limited to levels commonly experienced by astronauts (i.e., 4 - 6 hr per night) for as little as 1 week, can result in increased lapses of attention, degradation of response times, deficits in complex problem solving, reduced learning, mood disturbance, disruption of essential neuroendocrine, metabolic, and neuroimmune responses, and in some vulnerable persons, the emergence of uncontrolled sleep attacks. The prevention of cumulative performance deficits and neuroendocrine disruption from sleep restriction during extended duration space flight involves finding the most effective ways to obtain sleep in order to maintain the high-level cognitive and physical performance functions required for manned space flight. There is currently a critical deficiency in knowledge of the effects of how variations in sleep duration and timing relate to the most efficient return of performance per unit time invested in sleep during long-duration missions, and how the nature of sleep physiology (i.e., sleep stages, sleep electroencephalographic [EEG] power spectral analyses) change as a function of sleep restriction and performance degradation. The primary aim of this project is to meet these critical deficiencies through utilization of a response surface experimental paradigm, testing in a dose-response manner, varying combinations of sleep duration and timing, for the purpose of establishing how to most effectively limit the cumulative adverse effects on human performance and physiology of chronic sleep restriction in space operations.
Document ID
Document Type
Dinges, David F.
(Pennsylvania Univ. Philadelphia, PA United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
September 30, 1999
Publication Information
Publication: National Space Biomedical Research Institute
Subject Category
Aerospace Medicine
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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