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NASA invents sleep-inducing lights

NASA has developed colour-changing lights for use on the International Space Station (ISS) that can help make astronauts fall asleep, addressing a significant issue of insomnia in space.

NASA has developed colour-changing lights for use on the International Space Station (ISS) that can help make astronauts fall asleep, addressing a significant issue of insomnia in space.

 
The space agency plans to test the new system, called a solid-state lighting module, in 2016. The setup includes LED lights that produce blue, white or red light depending on the time of day, which will help mimic changes in light on Earth, and therefore help with sleep patterns.
 
Since humans follow a 24-hour night/day cycle, which does not exist in space, it can lead to exhaustion, depression and sickness in astronauts, which in turn can cause for potentially disastrous mistakes to be made on space missions.
 
 
The different colours of the solid-state lighting module are expected to produce different results in the astronauts, such as the blue helping to make the person alert, suppressing the sleep-inducing melatonin hormone, while red light will help them feel sleepy. The white light is used as an intermediary to slowly adjust from one state to another.
 
The technique sounds simple, but it could potentially revolutionise space exploration, as up to 50 percent of crew take sleeping tablets, and close to half of all medication used in space is designed to help astronauts sleep. On average astronauts also get two hours less sleep when in space than when they are on the ground.
 
The technology is being developed by aircraft giant Boeing and the project comes in at $11.2 million, according to Space.com. NASA believes the findings could also benefit the wider population, as artificial lightning can be adjusted to help make people alert or help them sleep.
 
Source: BBC
Image Credit: NASA

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