Astronauts At Risk For Sleep Problems

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New sleep aid could help anyone, even astronauts who experience night nor day sleep cues, get the restful sleep they need.

Astronauts traveling to distant places such as Mars may find themselves suffering from sleep problems as their missions progress, reported scientists in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s recent issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.

The researchers, led by Timothy H. Monk, professor of psychiatry in Pitt’s School of Medicine, found that the endogenous circadian pacemaker (ECP)- the part of the brain controlling the body’s cycle of sleep, wakefulness, alertness, temperature, and brain chemistry- is able to maintain its 24-hour rhythm for about 90 days once removed from the natural time cues on Earth. After that period, the influence of the ECP appears to diminish significantly and the quantity and quality of sleep drops.

“Man’s ability to leave Earth and travel in space raises the question of whether the human endogenous circadian pacemaker, which evolved on a planet with a 24-hour rotation, would still function well when removed from all of the natural time cues of Earth,” said Monk. “Our study shows that humankind may need to find ways to trick the ECP into maintaining a strong 24-hour cycle if we are to succeed on longer missions.”

One way a Memphis-based company and sleep apnea researchers hope to trick the ECP into maintaining a strong cycle is through a new pill called Diavad, which is not only designed to aid astronauts, but all humans at risk for sleep deprivation.

Diavad, manufactured by Selmedica Healthcare, allows your body to achieve balance and permits you to maintain a normal, healthy sleep pattern, a company spokesman said.

“Diavad does not cause you to fall asleep, instead it restores your body’s own crucial chemical and hormonal balance which re-establishes a more natural and healthier sleep pattern,” the spokesman said.

“We call it revolutionary because Diavad fights your sleeplessness symptoms from the inside – from every angle. It attacks the emotional, physical, and the psychological causes of sleep deprivation. You are actually receiving a system that is attacking your inability to sleep, overactive mind, and restlessness from every aspect.”

Karlie Paige, of, St. Paul, Minn., said ever since she started using Diavad, she’s had more energy to do everyday activities because she’s able to sleep at night.

"I couldn’t figure out why I would yawn all day long – all the time. I thought I was getting enough sleep. I later realized that even though I was going to sleep, it wasn’t a peaceful or restful sleep. I would toss and turn throughout the night and I would get up and stay up for a while. After doing some research, I came across Diavad. I ordered some and gave it a try. It worked really fast. Now, when I fall asleep, I stay asleep and I don’t yawn a lot during the day."

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Rachelle Ross