Staying in space does not come naturally to humans. That is why astronaut health in orbit, particularly in the International Space Station (ISS), is constantly monitored. Sleep is one of the parameters to be monitored, especially since most of the astronauts who live on the station complain of insomnia.
To be able to monitor the sleep of astronauts, it would be necessary to place electroencephalogram (EEG) electrodes on their heads while they sleep. But the equipment is cumbersome and would not impractical in microgravity. Scientists then proposed a solution to this problem, the use headphones that act as EEG electrodes.
This new very light system is called “ear-EEG” and it was created by a team of scientists from Aarhus University in Denmark. According to information, this technology is planned to be used on the ISS by the Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen as part of the research project sleep in orbit.
Sleep is important
According to scientists, the sleep of astronauts is generally affected by environment in microgravity. Then there is also the fact that day and night are established artificially, and not by following sunrise and sunset.
It is therefore important to properly manage the sleep of astronauts to avoid harmful effects on their health. If they don’t get enough sleep, they could, for example, become lethargic or even lack concentration. Obviously, this would be a disaster for the mission and could even lead to damage at the station level.
The objective of the project
The Sleep in Orbit project aims to better understand the sleep problem affecting astronauts, and to possibly propose solutions. To do this, scientists will analyze Mogensen’s sleeping habits on Earth, then on the ISS.
The EEG headphones will have a key role for the project since they will be used to track the electrical activities of the astronaut’s brain. The headphones will measure minute changes in electrical voltage at the surface of the skin in the ear canal.
According to the explanations of Professor Preben Kidmose, principal researcher of the study, we already know a little about the experience of astronauts regarding sleep in space. However, the effects of space on sleep physiologically are not yet clear. Researchers will have the opportunity to measure these effects during the project.