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Math Software to Help Plan Astronaut, Shift Worker Schedules


sleeping astronaut

Sleeping pills make up almost half of all the medicines astronauts use while in space.

Credit: NASA

National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) researchers have developed software that uses mathematical models to help astronauts and ground support workers adjust to shifting work and sleep schedules.

"The best methods that we know to help people operate at peak performance are first to ensure that they get adequate sleep, and second that their work schedules are designed to be aligned with the natural body clock," says NSBRI project leader Elizabeth Klerman.

The software consists of the Circadian Performance Simulation Software (CPSS) and a program called Shifter. CPSS uses mathematical formulas to predict how an individual will react to certain conditions and allows users to interactively compose a schedule, such as sleeping and waking at different times, and predicts when good and bad performances can be expected. Shifter prescribes the optimal times in the schedule to use light to shift a person's circadian rhythm in order to improve performance at critical times during the schedule.

The software also can be adapted for use in other occupations that rely on rotating schedules.

From National Space Biomedical Research Institute
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