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Monday, February 25, 2013

Heading to Antarctica - Sleep Doesn't Come Easily

Mawson 1954
For those of you considering going to Antarctica, and especially those going as expeditioners to any of the 3 Antarctic continent stations of Mawson,Davis or Casey there are a few things that you might like to consider before you go.
Life at these stations is very easy when compared with those who started the stations back in the early 1950's. Today the stations are modern by comparison, but when spending from 3 to 18 months there, it is nice to have a few personal items that make it more of a home.
One of the greatest challenges in any camp, whether it be a mine camp in Australia or an Antarctic Station, is getting solid sleep.The rooms on any of the stations are comfortable, but have walls as thin as rice paper. Lying there at night overhearing your neighbour figiting around with draws, playing terrible music,snoring and the occasional farts, does not always make for good fatigue management.So, here a few things that one might consider taking to help getting a good night sleep.
The Construction of Mawson Station 1954

  1. Your own comfy pillow. While all the stations provide all the bedding including pillows, They aren't exactly comfortable.I take my own because I like a firmer style of pillow.I still use the supplied ones as packing for when I sit up in bed reading.
  2. Ear plugs for obvious reasons.Noise cancelling headphones are also good, but not so comfortable when you roll over
  3. Sleeping tablets in the form of natural herbs, ie Valerian. I find these not bad as I don't wake up groggy.As always, these things work for some and not others. Valerian for myself is a suttle sleeping tablet as it relaxs the mind, it doesn't stomp on it like codine based tablets or other chemical based sleep tablets.
  4. Humidifier.The environment in the Antarctic is incredibly dry. The rooms do tend to be on the dry side which does effect solid sleep.You can buy humidifiers but are expensive and just adds to the overall weight of your luggage. So, a handy thing is a couple of long "hockey straps" or "bungy straps" as well as 3m of nylon rope suitable for a cloths line. All cloths are dried in commercial dryers or drying rooms. These all have limitations when you have a large crew on station during summer. However, having your own clothesline rigged in your room allows you to dry your cloths without having them been mistaken for someone Else's on a community line, and they add to the humidity of your room which in turn helps with your sleep. Believe me when I tell you your cloths will be dry in the morning. You may have to be a little inventive with how you rig your line as rooms don't exactly have hooks hanging out of the walls and nor should you be putting your own in.If your not inventive, then talk to the "Antarctic Tragics" who have been before. Frankly, if your not inventive, then what the hell are you doing going to Antarctica!
    Mawson 2013

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