Here on earth we rely on the sun to guide us through the biological clock of our body, but what happens to it when you are in space? In order to minimize insomnia among the residents of the International Space Station NASA along with Boeing plans to introduce colour changing solid-state lighting module (SSLM) containing LEDs instead of regular fluorescent panels. NASA has taken up the idea of using artificial light to induce sleep among space travelers considering the fact that in humans the hypothalamus responds to optical information sent by the eye’s optic nerve and controls the hormones and body functions that decide whether a person is feeling sleepy or not.

Flight unit Solid State Lighting Module (SSLM) at Kennedy Space Center.
The SSLMs will turn blue, whitish or red to make a person alert, neutral or sleepy respectively. Why just these 3 colors? Because blue simulates melanopsin, a pigment that is found in the retina that sends impulses to make a person alert and it also suppresses melatonin that is made by the brain’s pineal gland that makes a person feel sleepy. White acts as an intermediary stage for the transition to red that is said to bring about that sleepy feeling. A budget of 11.2 million dollars has been assigned to make sure that astronauts do get sleep deprived. NASA has also said that benefits from these experiments scheduled for 2016 will also be passed down people back on planet earth.

Source: BBC