Prevalence of sleep deficiency and use of hypnotic drugs in astronauts before, during, and after spaceflight: an observational study.
ABSTRACT: Sleep deprivation and fatigue are common subjective complaints among astronauts. Previous studies of sleep and hypnotic drug use in space have been limited to post-flight subjective survey data or in-flight objective data collection from a small number of crew members. We aimed to characterise representative sleep patterns of astronauts on both short-duration and long-duration spaceflight missions.For this observational study, we recruited crew members assigned to Space Transportation System shuttle flights with in-flight experiments between July 12, 2001, and July 21, 2011, or assigned to International Space Station (ISS) expeditions between Sept 18, 2006, and March 16, 2011. We assessed sleep-wake timing objectively via wrist actigraphy, and subjective sleep characteristics and hypnotic drug use via daily logs, in-flight and during Earth-based data-collection intervals: for 2 weeks scheduled about 3 months before launch, 11 days before launch until launch day, and for 7 days upon return to Earth.We collected data from 64 astronauts on 80 space shuttle missions (26 flights, 1063 in-flight days) and 21 astronauts on 13 ISS missions (3248 in-flight days), with ground-based data from all astronauts (4014 days). Crew members attempted and obtained significantly less sleep per night as estimated by actigraphy during space shuttle missions (7·35 h [SD 0·47] attempted, 5·96 h [0·56] obtained), in the 11 days before spaceflight (7·35 h [0·51], 6·04 h [0·72]), and about 3 months before spaceflight (7·40 h [0·59], 6·29 h [0·67]) compared with the first week post-mission (8·01 h [0·78], 6·74 h [0·91]; p<0·0001 for both measures). Crew members on ISS missions obtained significantly less sleep during spaceflight (6·09 h [0·67]), in the 11 days before spaceflight (5·86 h [0·94]), and during the 2-week interval scheduled about 3 months before spaceflight (6·41 h [SD 0·65]) compared with in the first week post-mission (6·95 h [1·04]; p<0·0001). 61 (78%) of 78 shuttle-mission crew members reported taking a dose of sleep-promoting drug on 500 (52%) of 963 nights; 12 (75%) of 16 ISS crew members reported using sleep-promoting drugs.Sleep deficiency in astronauts was prevalent not only during space shuttle and ISS missions, but also throughout a 3 month preflight training interval. Despite chronic sleep curtailment, use of sleep-promoting drugs was pervasive during spaceflight. Because chronic sleep loss leads to performance decrements, our findings emphasise the need for development of effective countermeasures to promote sleep.The National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Project description:Reactivation of latent herpes viruses was measured in 23 astronauts (18 male and 5 female) before, during, and after long-duration (up to 180 days) spaceflight onboard the international space station . Twenty age-matched and sex-matched healthy ground-based subjects were included as a control group. Blood, urine, and saliva samples were collected before, during, and after spaceflight. Saliva was analyzed for Epstein-Barr virus, varicella-zoster virus, and herpes simplex virus type 1. Urine was analyzed for cytomegalovirus. One astronaut did not shed any targeted virus in samples collected during the three mission phases. Shedding of Epstein-Barr virus, varicella-zoster virus, and cytomegalovirus was detected in 8 of the 23 astronauts. These viruses reactivated independently of each other. Reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus, varicella-zoster virus, and cytomegalovirus increased in frequency, duration, and amplitude (viral copy numbers) when compared to short duration (10 to 16 days) space shuttle missions. No evidence of reactivation of herpes simplex virus type 1, herpes simplex virus type 2, or human herpes virus 6 was found. The mean diurnal trajectory of salivary cortisol changed significantly during flight as compared to before flight (P?=?0.010). There was no statistically significant difference in levels of plasma cortisol or dehydoepiandosterone concentrations among time points before, during, and after flight for these international space station crew members, although observed cortisol levels were lower at the mid and late-flight time points. The data confirm that astronauts undertaking long-duration spaceflight experience both increased latent viral reactivation and changes in diurnal trajectory of salivary cortisol concentrations.
Project description:Performance of astronaut pilots during space shuttle landing was degraded after a few weeks of microgravity exposure, and longer-term exposure has the potential to impact operator proficiency during critical landing and post-landing operations for exploration-class missions. Full-motion simulations of operationally-relevant tasks were utilized to assess the impact of long-duration spaceflight on operator proficiency in a group of 8 astronauts assigned to the International Space Station, as well as a battery of cognitive/sensorimotor tests to determine the underlying cause of any post-flight performance decrements. A ground control group (N = 12) and a sleep restriction cohort (N = 9) were also tested to control for non-spaceflight factors such as lack of practice between pre- and post-flight testing and fatigue. On the day of return after 6 months aboard the space station, astronauts exhibited significant deficits in manual dexterity, dual-tasking and motion perception, and a striking degradation in the ability to operate a vehicle. These deficits were not primarily due to fatigue; performance on the same tasks was unaffected after a 30-h period of sleep restriction. Astronauts experienced a general post-flight malaise in motor function and motion perception, and a lack of cognitive reserve apparent only when faced with dual tasks, which had recovered to baseline by four days after landing.
Project description:The International Space Station (ISS) is a complex built environment physically isolated from Earth. Assessing the interplay between the microbial community of the ISS and its crew is important for preventing biomedical and structural complications for long term human spaceflight missions. In this study, we describe one crewmember's microbial profile from body swabs of mouth, nose, ear, skin and saliva that were collected at eight different time points pre-, during and post-flight. Additionally, environmental surface samples from eight different habitable locations in the ISS were collected from two flights. Environmental samples from one flight were collected by the crewmember and samples from the next flight were collected after the crewmember departed. The microbial composition in both environment and crewmember samples was measured using shotgun metagenomic sequencing and processed using the Livermore Metagenomics Analysis Toolkit. Ordination of sample to sample distances showed that of the eight crew body sites analyzed, skin, nostril, and ear samples are more similar in microbial composition to the ISS surfaces than mouth and saliva samples; and that the microbial composition of the crewmember's skin samples are more closely related to the ISS surface samples collected by the crewmember on the same flight than ISS surface samples collected by other crewmembers on different flights. In these collections, species alpha diversity in saliva samples appears to decrease during flight and rebound after returning to Earth. This is the first study to compare the ISS microbiome to a crewmember's microbiome via shotgun metagenomic sequencing. We observed that the microbiome of the surfaces inside the ISS resemble those of the crew's skin. These data support future crew and ISS microbial surveillance efforts and the design of preventive measures to maintain crew habitat onboard spacecraft destined for long term space travel.
Project description:As plans develop for Mars missions, it is important to understand how long-duration spaceflight impacts brain health. Here we report how 12-month (n?=?2 astronauts) versus 6-month (n?=?10 astronauts) missions impact brain structure and fluid shifts. We collected MRI scans once before flight and four times after flight. Astronauts served as their own controls; we evaluated pre- to postflight changes and return toward preflight levels across the 4 postflight points. We also provide data to illustrate typical brain changes over 7 years in a reference dataset. Twelve months in space generally resulted in larger changes across multiple brain areas compared with 6-month missions and aging, particularly for fluid shifts. The majority of changes returned to preflight levels by 6 months after flight. Ventricular volume substantially increased for 1 of the 12-month astronauts (left: +25%, right: +23%) and the 6-month astronauts (left: 17?±?12%, right: 24?±?6%) and exhibited little recovery at 6 months. Several changes correlated with past flight experience; those with less time between subsequent missions had larger preflight ventricles and smaller ventricular volume increases with flight. This suggests that spaceflight-induced ventricular changes may endure for long periods after flight. These results provide insight into brain changes that occur with long-duration spaceflight and demonstrate the need for closer study of fluid shifts.
Project description:Spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome (SANS) describes a series of morphologic and functional ocular changes in astronauts first reported by Mader and colleagues in 2011. SANS is currently clinically defined by the development of optic disc edema during prolonged exposure to the weightless (microgravity) environment, which currently occurs on International Space Station (ISS). However, as improvements in our understanding of the ocular changes emerge, the definition of SANS is expected to evolve. Other ocular SANS signs that arise during and after ISS missions include hyperopic shifts, globe flattening, choroidal/retinal folds, and cotton wool spots. Over the last 10 years, ~1 in 3 astronauts flying long-duration ISS missions have presented with ?1 of these ocular findings. Commensurate with research that combines disparate specialties (vision biology and spaceflight medicine), lessons from SANS investigations may also yield insight into ground-based ocular disorders, such as glaucomatous optic neuropathy that may have the potential to lessen the burden of this irreversible cause of vision loss on Earth.
Project description:A round-trip human mission to Mars is anticipated to last roughly three years. Spaceflight conditions are known to cause loss of bone mineral density (BMD) in astronauts, increasing bone fracture risk. There is an urgent need to understand BMD progression as a function of spaceflight time to minimize associated health implications and ensure mission success. Here we introduce a nonlinear mathematical model of BMD loss for candidate human missions to Mars: (i) Opposition class trajectory (400-600 days), and (ii) Conjunction class trajectory (1000-1200 days). Using femoral neck BMD data (N = 69) from astronauts after 132-day and 228-day spaceflight and the World Health Organization's fracture risk recommendation, we predicted post-mission risk and associated osteopathology. Our model predicts 62% opposition class astronauts and 100% conjunction class astronauts will develop osteopenia, with 33% being at risk for osteoporosis. This model can help in implementing countermeasure strategies and inform space agencies' choice of crew candidates.
Project description:The distance and duration of human spaceflight missions is set to markedly increase over the coming decade as we prepare to send astronauts to Mars. However, the health impact of long-term exposure to cosmic radiation and microgravity is not fully understood. In order to identify the molecular mechanisms underpinning the effects of space travel on human health, we must develop the capacity to monitor changes in gene expression and DNA integrity in space. Here, we report successful implementation of three molecular biology procedures on board the International Space Station (ISS) using a miniaturized thermal cycler system and C. elegans as a model organism: first, DNA extraction-the initial step for any type of DNA analysis; second, reverse transcription of RNA to generate complementary DNA (cDNA); and third, the subsequent semi-quantitative PCR amplification of cDNA to analyze gene expression changes in space. These molecular procedures represent a significant expansion of the budding molecular biology capabilities of the ISS and will permit more complex analyses of space-induced genetic changes during spaceflight missions aboard the ISS and beyond.
Project description:Adaptation to the space environment can sometimes pose physiological problems to International Space Station (ISS) astronauts after their return to earth. Therefore, it is important to develop healthcare technologies for astronauts. In this study, we examined the feasibility of using hair follicles, a readily obtained sample, to assess gene expression changes in response to spaceflight adaptation. In order to investigate the gene expression changes in human hair follicles during spaceflight, hair follicles of 10 astronauts were analyzed by microarray and real time qPCR analyses. We found that spaceflight alters human hair follicle gene expression. The degree of changes in gene expression was found to vary among individuals. In some astronauts, genes related to hair growth such as FGF18, ANGPTL7 and COMP were upregulated during flight, suggesting that spaceflight inhibits cell proliferation in hair follicles.
Project description:A subset of long-duration spaceflight astronauts have experienced ophthalmic abnormalities, collectively termed spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome (SANS). Little is understood about the pathophysiology of SANS; however, microgravity-induced alterations in intracranial pressure (ICP) due to headward fluid shifts is the primary hypothesized contributor. In particular, potential changes in optic nerve (ON) tortuosity and ON sheath (ONS) distension may indicate altered cerebrospinal fluid dynamics during weightlessness. The present longitudinal study aims to provide a quantitative analysis of ON and ONS cross-sectional areas, and ON deviation, an indication of tortuosity, before and after spaceflight. Ten astronauts undergoing ~6-month missions on the International Space Station (ISS) underwent high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) preflight and at five recovery time points extending to 1 year after return from the ISS. The mean changes in ON deviation, ON cross-sectional area, and ONS cross-sectional area immediately post flight were -0.14?mm (95% CI: -0.36 to 0.08, Bonferroni-adjusted P?=?1.00), 0.13?mm2 (95% CI -0.66 to 0.91, Bonferroni-adjusted P?=?1.00), and -0.22?mm2 (95% CI: -1.78 to 1.34, Bonferroni-adjusted P?=?1.00), respectively, and remained consistent during the recovery period. Terrestrially, ONS distension is associated with increased ICP; therefore, these results suggest that, on average, ICP was not pathologically elevated immediately after spaceflight. However, a subject diagnosed with optic disc edema (Frisen Grade 1, right eye) displayed increased ONS area post flight, although this increase is relatively small compared to clinical populations with increased ICP. Advanced quantitative MRI-based assessment of the ON and ONS could help our understanding of SANS and the role of ICP.
Project description:Rapid DNA sequencing and analysis has been a long-sought goal in remote research and point-of-care medicine. In microgravity, DNA sequencing can facilitate novel astrobiological research and close monitoring of crew health, but spaceflight places stringent restrictions on the mass and volume of instruments, crew operation time, and instrument functionality. The recent emergence of portable, nanopore-based tools with streamlined sample preparation protocols finally enables DNA sequencing on missions in microgravity. As a first step toward sequencing in space and aboard the International Space Station (ISS), we tested the Oxford Nanopore Technologies MinION during a parabolic flight to understand the effects of variable gravity on the instrument and data. In a successful proof-of-principle experiment, we found that the instrument generated DNA reads over the course of the flight, including the first ever sequenced in microgravity, and additional reads measured after the flight concluded its parabolas. Here we detail modifications to the sample-loading procedures to facilitate nanopore sequencing aboard the ISS and in other microgravity environments. We also evaluate existing analysis methods and outline two new approaches, the first based on a wave-fingerprint method and the second on entropy signal mapping. Computationally light analysis methods offer the potential for in situ species identification, but are limited by the error profiles (stays, skips, and mismatches) of older nanopore data. Higher accuracies attainable with modified sample processing methods and the latest version of flow cells will further enable the use of nanopore sequencers for diagnostics and research in space.