Space-age scheduling software could help healthcare workers, researchers say

Share this content:

Healthcare workers and other professionals who have shifting work schedules could benefit from a recently developed mathematical program designed to help astronauts prepare for space missions.

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute are developing the Circadian Performance Simulation Software (CPSS). The software has two components, according to researchers. One component allows users to design a schedule, such as shifting sleep/wake to a different time, and predicts when they would be expected to perform well or poorly. The second component prescribes optimal times in that schedule to use light to improve performance and shift a person's natural sleep rhythm.

The program could be used to help astronauts adjust their sleep schedules so they perform optimally during space-walks, docking procedures or other events that arise due to their ever-changing schedules. Healthcare workers, firefighters or police officers could also directly benefit from the software, researchers say.

"Our lives, including our safety, are impacted by those people who have jobs requiring shift work or extremely long hours and who may be at increased risk of accidents and errors affecting themselves or others," said project leader Dr. Elizabeth Klerman.