BELARE 2007-08 Sleep Study - © International Polar Foundation

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How Does Physical Activity Affect Sleep Quality in Antarctica?

Last year, Sciencepoles reported a sleep study being carried out on the BELARE 2007-2008 expedition team members, in Antarctica for the Princess Elisabeth Antarctic station's first building phase. Dr. Nathalie Pattyn, who works in the Department of Cognitive and Biological Psychology of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and the Department of Behavioural Sciences of the Royal Military Academy, investigated the influence of physical activity in regulating the sleep-wake distribution of people exposed to constant daylight.

After having analyzed in Belgium the data which was collected in Antarctica, Dr. Pattyn was able to confidently confirm the predominant hypothesis and subjective reports: physical activity can help regulate the sleep perturbations encountered in an environment of constant daylight. What this means is that the quality of one's sleep is directly influenced by the physical activity each person engages himself in during the day. This is true even when one is found in an environment of constant daylight.

During the BELARE 2008-09 season, Dr. Pattyn will accompany the team members as the expedition's MD (Doctor of Medecine). She intends on collecting further data and on providing more in-depth descriptions of both the mechanisms involved in sleep disturbances and their consequences for the human being.

Author: IPF

Picture: BELARE 2007-08 Sleep Study - © International Polar Foundation

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