Sleep, napping and alertness during an overwintering mission at Belgrano II Argentine Antarctic station

Sci Rep. 2019 Jul 26;9(1):10875. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-46900-7.


During Antarctic isolation personnel are exposed to extreme photoperiods. A frequent observation is a sleep onset phase delay during winter. It is not known if, as a result, daytime sleeping in the form of naps increases. We sought to assess sleep patterns - with focus on daytime sleeping - and alertness in a Latin American crew overwintering in Argentine Antarctic station Belgrano II. Measurements were collected in 13 males during March, May, July, September and November, and included actigraphy and psychomotor vigilance tasks. Sleep duration significantly decreased during winter. A total of eight participants took at least one weekly nap across all measurement points. During winter, the nap onset was delayed, its duration increased and its efficiency improved. We observed a significant effect of seasonality in the association of evening alertness with sleep onset. Our results replicate previous findings regarding sleep during overwintering in Antarctica, adding the description of the role of napping and the report of a possible modulatory effect of seasonality in the relation between sleep and alertness. Napping should be considered as an important factor in the scheduling of activities of multicultural crews that participate in Antarctica.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy
  • Adult
  • Antarctic Regions
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photoperiod
  • Polysomnography
  • Seasons
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / physiology*