Sleep patterns during an Antarctic field expedition
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelPostgraduate Certificate
Degree NamePostgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
Extreme conditions in Antarctica pose a significant challenge to researchers in field parties. One of the key issues noted in anecdotal evidence during expeditions is the presence of sleep disturbances. It is likely these disturbances are a result of the extreme photoperiod Antarctic personnel face, both in summer and winter. In an effort to examine the validity of these claims and define the variables associated with poor sleep during trips to Antarctica, 14 volunteers traveled to Antarctica and spent several days both in base and field camps. Participants selfreported sleep onset latency, sleep/wake times, number of awakenings, sleep quality, and mood rating during daytime. There is no indication that subjective sleep disturbance measures are significantly affected by travel to Antarctica on a group level, although individual differences varied markedly. STROOP and digit recall tests, given four times at approximately 3-day intervals show significant, t(13)=2.16 p<.001, increases only on digit recall . Future analyses will employ objective data to further explore the possible effects of the environment on sleep disturbance.