Alterations in sleep quality and quantity have been reported in Antarctica. The main sleep alterations consist of increased sleep onset latency, sleep fragmentation and reduction of slow wave sleep. Circadian desynchronization associated with specific light exposure, isolation and confinement and in some stations, altitude hypobaric hypoxia exposure, are thought to be the main factors associated with sleep disturbances in Antarctica stations. Sleep perturbations and circadian rhythms desynchronization may induce serious cardiovascular, cognitive, emotional and social impairments leading to altered health, safety and mission success of the crew. Countermeasures improving sleep quality remain then of major interest during Antarctica missions as well as for orbital and planetary space missions, since both environments share several factors responsible for sleep disturbances. Compact and user-friendly equipment is also required to monitor sleep over multiple nights whilst maximising compliance compared to standard polysomnography. This project aims first to quantify the effect of sleep disturbances on psychocognitive functions and chronobiological desynchronization correlated with the cardiovascular and metabolic status in crew members of the Concordia (at high altitude) and Dumont d’Urville (at sea level) stations, therefore allowing to isolate the effect of altitude (hypoxia) by comparing the results obtained between both stations. Because the crew of the Concordia station is exposed to severe hypoxic conditions and specifically to nocturnal intermittent hypoxia due to sleep apnoea, which has potential major health and functional consequences, a better understanding of the mechanisms by which function and health is affected over time is needed in this specific condition compared to sea level Dumont d’Urville station. The project will also evaluate the effectiveness of new, non-invasive countermeasures for restoring sleep, health, and optimal high-cognitive functions. The methodology is supported with new biotechnological devices for field monitoring of sleep, cognition and emotion providing feedback on individual health status and function.
Sleep and neurocognitive disturbances: Countermeasures and innovative investigation tools under polar extreme conditions in Antarctica