Sleep in Isolated, Confined, and Extreme (ICE): A Review on the Different Factors Affecting Human Sleep in ICE

Frontiers in Neuroscience
Pierpaolo ZiviFabio Ferlazzo


The recently renewed focus on the human exploration of outer space has boosted the interest toward a variety of questions regarding health of astronauts and cosmonauts. Among the others, sleep has traditionally been considered a central issue. To extend the research chances, human sleep alterations have been investigated in several analog environments, called ICEs (Isolated, Confined, and Extreme). ICEs share different features with the spaceflight itself and have been implemented in natural facilities and artificial simulations. The current paper presents a systematic review of research findings on sleep disturbances in ICEs. We looked for evidence from studies run in polar settings (mostly Antarctica) during space missions, Head-Down Bed-Rest protocols, simulations, and in a few ICE-resembling settings such as caves and submarines. Even though research has shown that sleep can be widely affected in ICEs, mostly evidencing general and non-specific changes in REM and SWS sleep, results show a very blurred picture, often with contradictory findings. The variable coexistence of the many factors characterizing the ICE environments (such as isolation and confinement, microgravity, circadian disentrainment, hypoxia, noise levels, an...Continue Reading


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