How Astronauts Sleep in Space

It is pretty hard to imagine sleeping in a sleeping bag while attaching their body to a wall, set, or bunk bed in order to prevent floating around the crew cabin in the middle of the night. Of course, the space shuttle and space station crews can sleep in the commander’s seat, the pilot’s seat, or in bunk bedsaccording to NASA reports.

If the mission is a single crew shift mission, where all the crewmembers shares the same sleep cycle per flight day, the sleeping area is normally aboard the shuttle. But on missions with five or more astronauts, called a dual crew shift mission, distractions of the working crew are eliminated by having the sleep compartments being located on-board.

Sleeping space for four people are on a two-level sleep compartment bunk bed, with the first person sleeping on the top bunk and the second person sleeping on the lower bunk. The third person sleeps on the underside of the lower bunk and the fourth person sleeps vertically in another bunk set. If all seven members of the shuttle crew sleep at the same time, three more sleeping bags can be attached vertically to the bulkhead storage lockers.

The size of the bunk beds are more than six feet long by 30 inches wide, consisting of a padded board with a fireproof sleeping bag attached to it with ventilation made from perforations. On Earth, the board would feel hard, but because the near weightlessness of space, it feels soft.

At night, the astronauts climb into their sleeping bags and zip themselves up, with their arms outside the bag. Around the waist is a strap that goes around the waist, with each sleeping compartment containing a light for reading and side panels that can be shut for privacy with eyeshades and earmuffs. But if all members are sleeping, two members have to wear communication headgear for the receiving of Mission Control or hear any alarms that may go off.

Astronaut’s sleeping patterns can at times become disrupted, and the scheduled eight hours of sleep may not occur due to excitement, motion sickness, sleeping too close to other crewmembers in a crowded space. Probably one of the largest struggles while sleeping may be the intermittent sunlight which is caused by the Sun rising every 90 minutes during those eight hours of sleepwith sleep masks being necessary to provide an unbroken sleep cycle.