How do Astronauts Sleep? We don’t mean to get personal but we want to know how Astronauts sleep while swirling around in space? Do they snap themselves into some kind of wall hookup, or roll themselves up into cocoons, or do their sleep patterns more resemble ours?
They indeed do attach themselves to solid non-floating objects to stay put. And yes, their sleep habits are not too far fetched from ours on earth, including the quality of their sleep which is often like ours, poor. Yet, they can sleep in their seats, in sleeping bags, in bunks, and probably just about anywhere simply by “tethering themselves to the orbiter walls.”
Actually, I learned while researching their sleep habits depend on their reasons for being in space, on what their particular mission they are out to accomplish. Sometimes they all sleep at once, at other times half sleep and half work. If sleeping in their seats we can well imagine they must be ready to awaken quickly if something needs to be done.
If in sleeping bags, then we can assure ourselves they have settled in for a good nights sleep and do not expect to be awakened at a moment’s notice. They are not on call duty’. These, we are told are cocoon-like restraints’ and are held secure by the storage lockers. If all seven are sleeping at the same time, two must have on their phones and they must be turned on, ready for incoming or outgoing calls.
What’s makes sleeping different for them is the weightlessness of space. This allows them to be comfortable even if sleeping in an upright position. Then, too, sleeping in their seats in a sitting position is probably much more comfortable than sleeping in a chair on earth.
There are bunks. In a two-level’ bunk bed four astronauts can sleep. That sounds reasonable. Two on the top bunk and two on the bottom bunk. Is that the way it is done? No. Their arrangement is confusing. It is a single bunk bed with one person on top and one person on the bottom, yet four astronauts can snooze happily.(See if you can figure this out. The answer further on.)
What if they are not quite ready for sleep. Do they just lie there and count sheep? Well yes and no. They have reading lights and they can finish that paper back book or read their bible, or just think. Or they can count sheep. To block out noise, they have ear muffs strapped to their sleeping bags and eye covers dim bright lights.
What if all seven want to sleep at the same time and there are only space in the twin bunk beds for four? The three others probably have to rough it a little, but they simply hook their sleeping pouches to the storage compartment, and climb in. Read on to learn the answer about the strange, out of this world, bunks.
So, what’s the puzzling bunk bed sleeping arrangement? As I said, one sleeps on the top bunk, one sleeps on the bottom bunk, and a third sleeps underneath the lower bunk. His face is toward the floor. The fourth person stands himself in a corner of the bunk bed area and sleeps.
That’s not quite true. The fourth person sleeps in a bunk that is upright and is standing against one end of the two-level bunk. In other words, this fourth bunk forms either a tall head board or a tall foot board.
The bunks are six feet long but only thirty inches wide. There certainly isn’t much wiggle room. An unusual aspect of this type of sleeping arrangement is that there’s no such thing as a hard bed’. In a weightless environment, “hard bed boards feel soft”.
To learn more how astronauts sleep in space, Astronaut-Physician Dave Williams went in space on the U.S. shuttle Columbia in 1998. Since then there are less unknowns about sleeping in space.
To learn more check out his findings online.