7 rules from NASA astronauts that will help you have a good sleep

In our common life we often underestimate the importance of sleep but the situation changes rapidly when we have problems getting asleep. The NASA astronauts know about this problem firsthand: they often have insomnia during the flights. In order to avoid this, the scientists have invented universal techniques of falling asleep that proved its effectiveness both in space and on Earth.

Follow the schedule of sleep regime.

The Sun is rising every 90 minutes on the orbit, which makes 16 times in 24 hours. That is why the astronauts often have breaches in circadian rhythms. The most effective way to avoid dreaming interruptions is having a habit of following the schedule of sleeping and waking time. That is why NASA scientists develop individual sleep graphics for the astronauts getting ready for the flight, considering their biological rhythms and sleeping habits. For example, you can start a habit of getting asleep at the same time with a help of computer program that will automatically turn it off by timer that you set. If you rest with your legs up for 10 minutes before sleep, this can help improve your venous outflow, make your breathing stable and help you relax and feel calm.

Refusal from habits that influence your dream badly.

The process of falling asleep much depends on our actions in the evening. An evening run or gym training activate and intensify all the process in the body and raise the body temperature; that is why the person needs more time to fell asleep and the sleep itself becomes shallow and hectic. That is why the astronauts reduce physical activity a couple of hours before going to sleep. They also exclude heavy food from their ration so that the process of digestion doesn’t take much energy and interfere with deep sleep. In order to improve the process of falling asleep, you should try spending several hours outside on fresh air a day and refuse from sports and late heavy suppers. Your sleep will become much better without an evening coffee and your head will be much clearer in the morning.

Limiting the use of electronic devices.

Blue shortwave light from computers, cell phones, smartphones has negative influence of sleep. Bright light emanation that exceeds sun’s on 40% reduces the production of melatonin – sleep hormone. That is the reason why we can sit at computer for hours not feeling the wish to sleep. This can lead to circadian rhythms violations and astronauts stop using electronic devices 2-3 hours before sleep. It you are not ready to follow their habit yet, you can use glasses with special lenses or set up one the applications with blue light filter. The application will regulate the brightness of your monitor in accordance with time of day in automatic regime.

Choosing the right illumination.

Illumination on space stations plays an important role in regulation and support of the astronauts’ circadian rhythms. Luminescent lamps with a big part of blue light in their spectrum are not used on space ships any more. They were replaced by LED lamps that can work in different regimes and can change colors and brightness in accordance with the human’s biological hours. In evening time the blue color is reduced while at day time it is intensified to improve the astronauts working abilities. You should protect yourself from the influence of luminescent lamps. It is better to use lamps with yellow or orange color is the bedroom: it almost doesn’t influence the synthesis of melatonin and your sleep will be safe.

Making an atmosphere for sleeping.

All the members of space crew have individual cabins without illuminators. It is done on purpose so that often sunrises do not influence on their sleep. The less light is getting into the bedroom at night, the higher is the level of melatonin and the more you want to sleep. If the room where you sleep is not quiet and dark enough, a sleeping mask and earplugs can help you. You should air your bedroom at least once a day so that you do not have a head ache because of the stifling air in the morning.

Mastering on relaxation techniques.

Sometimes we may have sleeping violations because of the worries that gathered during the day. For such cases they use cognitive behavioral therapy in NASA, with the help of which you can bring your mental state in order. The program allows identifying your habits and inner settings that can cause problems with sleep, and replace them with others that help sleep tight. The relaxation technique helps getting good results. Several easy exercises will not only improve your sleeping but will make you more calm and joyful.

    The most effective technique of relaxation is deep breathing:
  • make a slow deep breath in, counting till 5 in your mind;
  • hold your breath also counting till 5;
  • exhale, also counting till 5.

Repeat the cycle several times and check how the tension is leaving your muscles. The secret of successful relaxation is in not trying to do everything perfectly and correct.

Eating products containing caffeine and melatonin.

At minor sleeping violations in order not to break the rhythms, the astronauts are taking synthetic melatonin, that has little sedative effect, and products containing caffeine: tea, coffee, chocolate. Melatonin helps falling asleep and caffeine comes for help when you can not fall asleep: it provides normal working efficiency and lets you hold till the usual time of your sleep.

In order to get maximal caffeine doze for proper mental and physical activity, there should be 400 mg on this substance in blood, according to US Army medical part research. So if you slept only 5 hours at night, you can get back the attention and speed of reaction of a person who slept well, if you drink 2 cups of not very strong coffee (with 100 mg caffeine each) after you woke up and two more in 4 hours.

Sergii Haranenko

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