Sleep disturbances are the main health complaints from personnel deployed in Antarctica. The current paper presents a systematic review of research findings on sleep disturbances in Antarctica. The available sources were divided in three categories: results based on questionnaire surveys or sleep logs, studies using actigraphy, and data from polysomnography results. Other areas relevant to the issue were also examined. These included chronobiology, since the changes in photoperiod have been known to affect circadian rhythms, mood disturbances, exercise, sleep and hypoxia, countermeasure investigations in Antarctica, and other locations lacking a normal photoperiod. Based on the combination of our reviewed sources and data outside the field of sleep studies, or from other geographical locations, we defined hypotheses to be confirmed or infirmed, which allowed to summarize a research agenda. Despite the scarcity of sleep research on the Antarctic continent, the present review pinpointed some consistent changes in sleep during the Antarctic winter, the common denominators being a circadian phase delay, poor subjective sleep quality, an increased sleep fragmentation, as well as a decrease in slow wave sleep. Similar changes, albeit less pronounced, were observed during summer. Additional multidisciplinary research is needed to elucidate the mechanisms behind these changes in sleep architecture, and to investigate interventions to improve the sleep quality of the men and women deployed in the Antarctic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-172
Number of pages14
JournalSleep Medicine Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

    Research areas

  • Actigraphy, Antarctica, Insomnia, Photoperiod, Polar, Polysomnography

ID: 38201559