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Sleep at high altitude and during space travel 

Sleep at high altitude and during space travel
Sleep at high altitude and during space travel

Yvonne Nussbaumer-Ochsner

, and Konrad E. Bloch

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date: 25 November 2020

This chapter summarizes data on sleep–wake disturbances in humans at high altitude and in space. High altitude exposure is associated with periodic breathing and a trend toward reduced slow-wave sleep and sleep efficiency in healthy individuals. Some subjects are affected by altitude-related illness (eg, acute and chronic mountain sickness, high-altitude cerebral and pulmonary edema). Several drugs are available to prevent and treat these conditions. Data about the effects of microgravity on sleep are limited and do not allow the drawing of firm conclusions. Microgravity and physical and psychological factors are responsible for sleep–wake disturbances during space travel. Space missions are associated with sleep restriction and disruption and circadian rhythm disturbances encouraging use of sleep medication. An unexplained and unexpected finding is the improvement in upper airway obstructive breathing events and snoring during space flight.

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