The development of lighting countermeasures for sleep disruption and circadian misalignment during spaceflight

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The review addresses the development of a new solid-state lighting system for the International Space Station (ISS) that is intended to enhance the illumination of the working and living environment of astronauts and to improve sleep, circadian entrainment, and daytime alertness.

Recent findings

Spaceflight missions often expose astronauts and mission support ground crews to atypical sleep–wake cycles and work schedules. A recent, extensive study describes the sleep characteristics and use of sleep-promoting pharmaceuticals in astronauts before, during, and after spaceflight. The acceptability, feasibility, and efficacy of the new ISS solid-state lighting systems are currently being tested in ground-based, analog studies. Installation of this lighting system on the ISS is scheduled to begin later this year. In-flight testing of this lighting system is planned to take place during ISS spaceflight expeditions.

Summary

If the new ISS lighting system is capable of improving circadian entrainment and sleep during spaceflight, it should enhance astronaut health, performance, well-being, and safety. Such an advance would open the door to future lighting applications for humans living on Earth.

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