As NASA works toward one day sending astronauts to deep space, the agency is studying how the long journeys to planets such as Mars could potentially affect our health and well-being.
To that end, the space agency recently completed a 45-day experiment, the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) mission. In it, astronauts didn’t actually leave Earth, but simulated what it would be like if they did. It required a four-person crew to deal with a number of detriments to their general alertness.
The astronauts could only sleep five hours every night for five days a week. Then they would get a two-day recovery period where they could sleep eight hours each night.
“The sleep deprivation was really difficult. It really hindered our normalcy,” explained HERA crew member James Titus. “We are used to working and living our lives at a higher level. During this mission, the sleep reduction, the no-nap rule and limited caffeine — went hand in hand to really slow us down.”
That’s how you know they are truly dedicated — no coffee in the name of science.
According to a statement from NASA, the crew found that in particular, lack of sleep impacted team cohesion, performance and interpersonal relationships.
So if you think that you can’t take the time to sleep a full night, take it from some people who really know what it’s like to deal with high stress situations. Get some rest — your brain and your colleagues will thank you.