Keeping the right time in space: importance of circadian clock and sleep for physiology and performance of astronauts.

Research paper by Jin-Hu JH Guo, Wei-Min WM Qu, Shan-Guang SG Chen, Xiao-Ping XP Chen, Ke K Lv, Zhi-Li ZL Huang, Yi-Lan YL Wu

Indexed on: 01 Jan '14Published on: 01 Jan '14Published in: Military Medical Research


The circadian clock and sleep are essential for human physiology and behavior; deregulation of circadian rhythms impairs health and performance. Circadian clocks and sleep evolved to adapt to Earth's environment, which is characterized by a 24-hour light-dark cycle. Changes in gravity load, lighting and work schedules during spaceflight missions can impact circadian clocks and disrupt sleep, in turn jeopardizing the mood, cognition and performance of orbiting astronauts. In this review, we summarize our understanding of both the influence of the space environment on the circadian timing system and sleep and the impact of these changes on astronaut physiology and performance.