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Int J Biometeorol. 2008 Nov;52(8):869-79. doi: 10.1007/s00484-008-0183-2. Epub 2008 Sep 20.

Changes in sleep patterns during prolonged stays in Antarctica.

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Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences, Defence Research and Development Organisation, Ministry of Defence, Government of India, Lucknow Road, Delhi, 110054, India.


Various countries have permanent research bases in Antarctica that are manned year-round by a few members of an expedition team, facing extremes of temperature with the associated hardships. Acclimatisation to such an environment is associated with pyschophysiological changes along with alterations in sleep patterns. The present study was undertaken to explore the changes in sleep patterns of six members of the Indian expedition team during their winter stay at Maitri, the permanent research station of India in Antarctica. The mean (+/- SEM) age, height and weight of the subjects were 35.7 +/- 2.32 years, 168.3 +/- 2.37 cm and 71.0 +/- 1.88 kg, respectively. Polysomnographic sleep recordings were obtained as baseline data in November 2004 in Delhi (altitude 260 m, latitude 29 degrees N, longitude 77 degrees E); data on the same parameters were collected at Maitri, Antarctica (altitude 120 m, latitude 70 degrees 45' 39'' S, longitude 11 degrees 44' 49'' E) from January to December 2005. A one-way analysis of variance with repeated measures showed a significant variation with time (month effect) in most of the sleep parameters recorded. Total sleep time decreased from Delhi baseline values in all months, sleep efficiency decreased significantly during winter months, duration of waking period after sleep onset increased significantly in winter, sleep latency increased immediately after exposure in January, stages 3 and 4 (slow wave sleep) reduced during dark winter months, whereas stages 1 and 2 and rapid eye movement sleep increased during dark winter months. This study observed a prevailing general trend of sleep disturbances amongst overwintering members in a modern Antarctic station.

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