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NASA testing light colours for better astronaut sleep

25-02-2013

NASA seem to be at the forefront of sleep technology, first they develop the revolutionary mattress material, memory foam, now they have a whole team of scientists working on what light colours can improve astronauts’ sleep.

One of the complaints of the astronauts who live on the International Space Station is that they struggle to sleep. One of the reasons for this insomnia is that they are not exposed to the same changing light levels and colours that we are on Earth. The space station orbits the planet 15 times a day meaning  that they do not experience a 24 hour day night cycle.

Our body clocks are synchronised by external light levels and colours and to help the astronauts sleep, the US space agency are going to install a solid-state lighting module (SSLM) that contains LEDs which produces a blue, whitish or red-coloured light depending on the time of the day, helping synchronise the astronauts’ body clocks with the ISS’s 24 hour cycle.

The light will cycle from red to white to blue and back again during the day, simulating the changing colours in the sky before dimming for the night time.
This same technique has a number of other planetary applications so look out for it in the future.


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