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Aviat Space Environ Med. 1991 Nov;62(11):1019-25.

Adaptation of sleep and circadian rhythms to the Antarctic summer: a question of zeitgeber strength.

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San Jose State University Foundation, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035.


Adaptation of sleep and circadian rhythms was examined in three temperate zone dwellers arriving in Antarctica during summer. Rectal temperature, wrist activity, and heart rate were monitored continuously, sleep timing and quality noted on awakening, and mood and fatigue rated every 2 h while awake. Sleep was poorer in 2/3 subjects in Antarctica, where all subjects reported more difficulty rising. Sleep occurred at the same clock times in New Zealand and Antarctica, however, the rhythms of temperature, activity, and heart rate underwent a delay of about 2 h. The subject with the most Antarctic experience had the least difficulty adapting to sleeping during constant daylight. The subject with the most delayed circadian rhythms had the most difficulty. The delay in the circadian system with respect to sleep and clock time is hypothesized to be due to differences in zeitgeber strength and/or zeitgeber exposure between Antarctica and New Zealand.

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