The lives of astronauts are often mysterious and uncertain. What do they eat? How do they exercise? Is it easy to sleep in space?
To celebrate its historic connection with NASA, TEMPUR® takes a look at life in space, and astronaut sleep…
Since the first journey into space in 1961, we have been fascinated with space travel. We imagine what it feels like to look out of a window and see nothing but infinite stars, or to float weightlessly above the ground.
However, being an astronaut is a serious job – with many responsibilities, including science experiments, the maintenance and repair of equipment and spacewalking, working outside the space station in the trademark suit.
On top of this, astronauts still need to eat, use the bathroom, exercise and wash themselves. Perhaps most importantly, they still need sleep. So, how do they manage this in space?
Astronauts have demanding jobs – so it’s vital that they get a good night’s sleep to boost their focus, job performance and energy during the day. However, astronauts orbiting the Earth will make one complete turn every 90 minutes, meaning sixteen sunrises and sunsets a day! So, how do they manage to get a good quality of sleep in these challenging conditions?
It can be hard to comprehend that in space there is no up or down. Due to zero gravity, technically astronauts could sleep facing in any direction, and could even float around the spaceship while sleeping. However, for obvious health and safety reasons astronauts need a secure, safe place to sleep without moving about.
Spaceships have sleeping compartments or crew cabins with sleeping bags on the walls, using cords to hold their bodies still to make sure they don’t drift about while sleeping. Some astronauts use earplugs to reduce any noise from equipment or machinery. It may be difficult to imagine sleeping in these cramped conditions, but astronauts eventually adjust to their new lifestyle.
Astronauts are recommended to get eight hours of shut-eye a day to ensure that their cognitive function is at its best – it is truly admirable that they manage this without the help of a comfy mattress or pillow.
As well as sleep, astronauts have a few other tricky aspects of space life to contend with.
For example, space food is quite different to the food we eat on Earth. Before the space mission, food is cooked, frozen, dehydrated and vacuum packed. Meals are carefully prepared to make sure they have the right amount of vitamins and nutrients. Once on board, astronauts use hot water to rehydrate the food. The quality of space food is a lot better than it used to be – but they must miss biting into a burger or a slice of pizza!
Exercise is another important factor of space life. Due to zero gravity, muscles and bones become weaker in space if not exercised regularly. Astronauts therefore need to exercise for a couple of hours per day, using specially designed equipment such as treadmills to keep their bodies fit and healthy.