Houston Matters

The Real Final Frontier: Sleep in Space

Dr. Smith Johnston has one job: to help NASA astronauts go to sleep. He doesn’t use any of the typical means you or I might use – like listening to the dulcet sounds of recorded waterfalls and birds. This aerospace doctor uses precision medicine, including tight schedules and scientific development of new LEDs, to keep […]

Smith Johnston NASA Sleep Doctor - Image Courtesy NASA

Dr. Smith Johnston has one job: to help NASA astronauts go to sleep. He doesn't use any of the typical means you or I might use – like listening to the dulcet sounds of recorded waterfalls and birds.

This aerospace doctor uses precision medicine, including tight schedules and scientific development of new LEDs, to keep his subjects – who are orbiting 250 kilometers above earth – sleeping like babies, despite the unique circumstances of weightless space travel.

Paige Phelps spoke with Dr. Johnston about the challenges of sleeping in space and asked what makes it so hard to catch some shut eye in orbit?

MORE: NASA's Sleep Doc (Sleep Review, Oct. 1, 2011)

(Above: NASA’s sleep specialist, Dr. Smith Johnston. Image Courtesy NASA)

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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