Student Features

Sleeping in Space
01.29.04
Astronaut Paul Richards is next to a sleep station inside the Zvezda Service Module. Astronaut Paul Richards Next to a Sleep Station
After a long day at work, there is nothing like a good night's sleep! Just like on Earth, a person in space goes to bed at night then wakes up the next day and prepares for work all over again. But it's a little different in space.

In space there is no up or down, and you do not feel the pull of gravity. As a result, astronauts are weightless and can sleep anywhere. Astronauts can attach themselves to a wall, a seat or a bunk bed inside the crew cabin so they don't float around and bump into something.

Space Station crews usually sleep in sleeping bags. On the Space Station there are two small crew cabins. Each one is just big enough for one person. Inside both crew cabins is a sleeping bag and a large window to look out in space. Currently, Space Station crews have three astronauts living and working in space for months at a time. Where does the third astronaut sleep? If it's okay with the commander, the astronaut can sleep anywhere in the Space Station so long as they attach themselves to something.

The International Space Station
The International Space Station

Astronaut Susan Helms slept in the huge Destiny Laboratory Module by herself while she was living aboard the International Space Station. This is on the opposite side of the station from the Service Module where her crewmates slept. Generally, astronauts are scheduled for eight hours of sleep at the end of each mission day. Like on Earth, though, they may wake up in the middle of their sleep to use the toilet, or stay up late and look out the window. During sleep, astronauts have reported having dreams and nightmares. Some have even reported snoring in space!

The excitement of being in space and motion sickness can disrupt an astronaut's sleep pattern. Sleeping so close together can also be hard since crewmembers can easily hear each other. But when it is time to wake up, the Space Station crew uses an alarm clock.



Excerpted from spaceflight.nasa.gov