As someone who loves adventuring around the world, I spend a fair bit of time away from home. But the time away – and distance travelled – kinda pales into insignificance when it comes to astronauts.
I’ve slept in some pretty unusual places – on the floor of a ferry, a hogan in Monument Valley, and in the middle of the Mexican jungle. But I’m pretty sure an astronaut can top them all – snoozing in space!
*this post is a paid collaboration with TEMPUR®*
Despite being in a completely different atmosphere, there are elements of astronaut life that resonate with our daily routines here on earth. Astronauts typically work 12 hour days, so getting a good night’s sleep is a priority. Up in space, there are extra challenges to be faced (hellooo, microgravity) – so if these guys and gals can get a good snooze in, they’re definitely the people we should be taking tips from…
Getting the right gear
When it’s time for bed, astronauts strap themselves ‘into bed’ – and whilst on earth, we don’t need to go that far, there’s definitely some tips we can pick up on optimising our sleeping environments. Having the right mattress and pillow is the biggest step you can make in improving your quality of sleep. Because no one wants saggy springs, right?
The material inside TEMPUR® mattresses and pillows was originally developed for NASA, with the aim of supporting the astronauts’ bodies as they shot off into space. Evenly distributing pressure, the technology has now been applied to Tempur products to ensure a better night’s sleep.
Exercise and sleep
In order to cope with the physical demands of living in space, astronauts need to be in pretty good shape. On average, they exercise for two hours every day, with specialist equipment to suit the different atmosphere.
I always find I sleep better if I’m doing regular exercise – even if it’s just getting off the tube a couple of stops early to walk. It’s something I’ve been making a real effort to build into my busy life more, like going for a run during my lunch break or doing a spin class after work.
Giving the brain time to decompress
Working on a spaceship seems like it’d need a lot of mental agility – lots of mind-bending tech and systems to work with would definitely stretch the brain to its limits.
Us earth-dwelling humans also have pretty active brains – what with work, life maintenance and general everyday stresses. So it’s pretty important to allow our brains time to shut down. I try (note: try!) to shut down my laptop and put away my phone for an hour or so before bed, and read a book before I go to sleep. When I manage to do it, I definitely doze off more quickly.
Getting the environment right
Astronauts on the International Space Station will experience 16 sunrises and sunsets in a 24 hour period, which would definitely play havoc with the concepts of morning and night. To combat this, they use shutters and eye shades to keep the room dark when sleeping, ventilating the quarters, and keeping them at a cool temperature.
Fun fact: I don’t have a proper window in my bedroom, so I keep the curtains to our interior French doors open, to let as much light as possible in through our dining room in the morning. I’m also thinking of investing in a daylight alarm clock, to make waking up a more pleasant experience. Having the doors slightly open helps with the temperature and ventilation too.
What are your top tips for getting a good night’s sleep?