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Characterization of International Space Station Crew Members' Workload Contributing to Fatigue, Sleep Disruption and Circadian De-synchronization  (2020)
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The focus of this paper is to characterize how the International Space Station (ISS) crewmembers' workload may be contributing to sleep loss, circadian misalignment and fatigue. Both sleep quantity and subjective sleep quality are reduced in ISS crewmembers (Barger, Flynn-Evans, Kubey, Walsh, Ronda, Wang, Wright, & Czeisler, 2014). Evidence indicates that the use of hypnotic drugs does not appear to promote extended sleep duration. Because sleep is often driven by psychosocial as well as somatic attributes, traditional therapies may only partially moderate the problem for some individuals. Accordingly, searching for additional abatement tactics is a sensible plan. Scientific studies have shown that sleep can be disrupted from work-related stressors. On the ISS, to optimize their time, the crewmembers follow prescribed, ambitious and rigorous schedules with shared deadlines. Here it will be argued that these human capital leveraging techniques may be undermining the astronaut's sleep, which could negatively impact performance. Along with half of the Earth-bound working population (Paoli & MerlliƩ, 2001), ISS crewmembers may not be adequately recovering from their workload. This paper begins with a characterization of the working conditions of ISS crewmembers, describes the development of rigorous schedules and portrays a typical workday. Terrestrially-based research is compiled to describe how full and partial sleep deprivation affect physical and cognitive performance and how ISS work characteristics may disrupt sleep and subsequent performance. The literature points toward potential solutions to astronaut fatigue that is related to their workload. Finally, throughout the text, evidence is provided from semi-structured interviews, biographies and textual databases to support the argument that astronaut workload is contributing to their sleep loss and fatigue and that research, development and mitigation strategies should focus on enhancing the restorative process.
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Circadian De-synchronization, Fatigue, International, Members, Sleep Disruption, Space, Station Crew, Workload
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Adobe PDF Icon  NASA_TM_20205006969.pdf (Download Acrobat Reader Click to download Adobe Acrabat Reader)
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Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Jessica Nowinski
Last Updated: August 15, 2019