Sleeping in space

Volunteers face problems on a make-believe mission to Mars

By Stephen Ornes, 10:00 AM January 27, 2013

Long space flights may harm astronauts’ sleep patterns, a 520-day experiment found. Replacing fluorescent bulbs with blue lights like the ones in this photo may help avoid those problems. Credit: ESA

A voyage to Mars would take about eight months on a modern spaceship. That might seem like a great opportunity to catch up on your sleep. But a recent experiment finds that people may develop sleep problems on a long space journey — or at least on the pretend trip in these tests.

“If we at some point really want to go to Mars and we want to send humans, then we need to know how they will cope,” Mathias Basner told Science News. He is a sleep researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s ...

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