Is it comfortable to sleep on the ceiling: how do astronauts sleep on the ISS?

Science 2023

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Is it comfortable to sleep on the ceiling: how do astronauts sleep on the ISS?
Is it comfortable to sleep on the ceiling: how do astronauts sleep on the ISS?

After a long day at work, there's nothing better than going to bed. Sleep is an important part of human life and a process without which not only brain function is disrupted, but over time, all other vital functions. That is why, even in space, proper attention is paid to he althy sleep.

So how do astronauts sleep in space? Do they spend their "night" rest in free flight around the ISS, or do they fasten their sleeping places and themselves to something? Do the conditions of weightlessness help or hinder them? How astronauts sleep on the ISS, photos of sleeping places, as well as the work schedule can be seen below.

Earthly curiosity

We, ordinary people, have always been interested in every aspect of the life of astronauts in space. All their activities, from research work to personal hygiene, arouse a lot of curiosity. Like many other routine activities they perform in low gravity, sleeping on the ISS is very different from what they are used to on Earth, so we are very interested to know how astronauts sleep.

Tense work schedule, physical and psychological stress, frequent sunrises and sunsets, radiation and many othersaspects of life in Earth orbit affect the quality of rest, as well as how astronauts sleep in space. Photos and videos from NASA and other sources show unusual sleeping conditions for us earthlings.

Uncomfortable to sleep on the ceiling… or not?

sleep in weightlessness

The pressurized cabins and compartments of the International Space Station are highly ventilated, providing astronauts with the same air we breathe on Earth at sea level. This is very important for resting, because it is very easy to suffocate on exhaled carbon dioxide during sleep.

Besides, resting in zero gravity is not quite familiar to people. On the ISS, you can't just put a mattress on the floor and go to sleep. Not only will the sleeping astronaut go on a slow free float around the space station, but the unattached mattress will follow him.

Due to the fact that in low gravity there are no familiar concepts of "down" and "up", astronauts can settle down for the night anywhere, even on the ceiling.


Most crew members on the ISS sleep in private cabins or rest modules. There are also specially equipped sleeping cabins, similar to showers, where the sleeping bag is attached to the wall with special straps. The difference between these sleeping cabins and private cabins is that they are soundproofed.

To ensure the most effective rest, the astronaut should be well "packed" before going to bed. It is desirable to do this in such a way as to avoid involuntary movements of the arms and legs in weightlessness. In fact, the astronauts swaddle themselves tightly insleeping bag before falling asleep.

Sleep problems

sleep per ms

Because the ISS circles the Earth several times a day, astronauts can watch sunset and sunrise as many as 16 times in 24 hours. This unique spectacle is breathtaking and disrupts the usual circadian rhythm that the body and brain on Earth get used to. Violations of this rhythm can lead to sleep problems, so the astronauts strictly adhere to the daily routine and try to sleep 8 hours a day.

Lack of sleep can negatively affect not only cognitive functions, but also overall he alth. Poor rest can lead to fatigue and mood swings, as well as metabolic disorders, heart disease and gastrointestinal disorders, not to mention inattention and poor concentration, which in turn lead to accidents at work.

Astronauts use a number of tactics to ensure they get the most efficient vacation possible. Interestingly, some of these tricks can be taken into account by ordinary Earthlings who are faced with insomnia.

The right approach

Knowledge is power! Studying what factors influence he althy sleep can greatly facilitate the process of adjusting to new environmental conditions, even such drastic ones as weightlessness and 16 sunrises and sunsets a day.

Astronauts definitely get the necessary amount of physical activity (there are several sports simulators on the ISS), they try to limit interaction withelectronic devices a few hours before bedtime, get the necessary amount of nutrients and try to follow the usual terrestrial circadian rhythm.

Sleep on schedule

astronaut sleep schedule

Synchronizing the sleep schedule with the body's circadian rhythm helps astronauts prevent insomnia and fatigue. On Earth, where the body is naturally acclimatized to a 24-hour day, this is much easier than in space, where the sun rises 15-16 times a day. For the first few days or even weeks, astronauts must make an effort to stick to their usual sleep schedule. This is not easy, especially given that, in addition to the disrupted circadian rhythm, they need to get used to other complications.

Each astronaut has their own work schedule, which clearly defines rest times, advice on diet and the amount of exercise required.

Maintain optimal sleep conditions

How do astronauts sleep in space?

The developers of the ISS have made and continue to make every effort to provide astronauts with a comfortable stay on the space station, no matter how long it may be. This includes ensuring he althy, uninterrupted sleep.

Astronauts' private cabins allow them to be as isolated as possible from the rest of the crew, which ensures efficient shift work.

Other controlled environmental factors that affect the sleep of crew members aboard the station include temperature, lighting, ventilation, noise and special seat belts,which allow astronauts to secure their sleeping bag and sleep in one position.

Natural and artificial light

astronauts sleep in space

The International Space Station revolves around the Earth every 92 minutes. Thus, the crew members observe about 16 sunrises and sunsets per day. This constant change of day and night negatively affects the circadian rhythm of the body of astronauts. To minimize this negative impact, efficient artificial lighting is used on the ISS.

Therapy and drugs

Despite the fact that the space station is 400 kilometers from Earth, ground support is available 24 hours a day, and it includes trained psychologists who can help astronauts cope with insomnia. In addition, crew members can always resort to the help of medications. The ISS has its own mini-pharmacy, which is more like a first aid kit for all occasions. It contains preparations containing melatonin, a natural hormone that helps to fall asleep, as well as more effective sleeping pills. The reaction of the astronaut to each drug contained in the ISS first aid kit is checked before the flight into orbit.

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