From the accepted answer to this question there have been times when astronauts have overslept.

The morning started disastrously. I slept through two alarms, one set for 0600 and another a half-hour later to remind me to take some COE pictures. My body apparently went on strike for better working conditions.

Given the intense scheduling pressure, what are the procedures for handling a thirty minute or more oversleep?

  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure how to find a good source for this, so commenting in lieu of answer for now, but I used to be able to view schedules and while "down to five minutes" is kind of accurate, there tended to be some time around the scheduled sleep times for hygiene or exercise that could be used as a buffer. $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Nov 12, 2019 at 0:33

1 Answer 1


I'm probably going to miss actually answering your question about a procedure for handling oversleeps, if one exists. I think this answer will be worthwhile info on scheduling on the ISS anyway.

First, though, the closest thing I could find to a crewmember answering your actual question. This is from NASA/TM-2010-216130, the first of the two Stuster papers I linked previously.:

Skipped breakfast and finally made up the work and time. Otherwise it would have been a fairly nice pace today.

Schedule is a frequent subcategory of journal entries in both Stuster papers. Both have a portion of "Section 4: Implications" dedicated specifically to "Schedules and Time-Related Stress." Recurring themes to do with scheduling are that the ground schedulers have difficulties making good estimates as to the length of time any given task will take, and so schedules are often blown even without sleep issues.

  • Only 30 minutes [were scheduled] to execute a 55-step procedure that required collecting 21 items. It took 3 or 4 hours.

  • Had an uneventful rendezvous and docking, but then had to work quite a few hours that day in order to unpack the Soyuz and ready it for an emergency landing if necessary. I found myself getting pretty inefficient; by the time I go to bed tonight my work day will have been about 27 hours, and that’s on top of 2 nights with pretty minimal sleep. I don’t know what could be done about it, but I think they should give us time off after docking.

  • It has been a pretty tedious week with tasks that were clearly allotted too little time on the schedule. Talking to [the MCC] today, I realized he just doesn’t understand how we work up here.

  • Several of the procedures, as usual, just took much longer than timelined. We have some tasks, as is too often the case, that were written without our input and which we never actually performed, except on paper. [Erin's note - I have bad memories of trying to develop software procedures as the software developer. Quite the CF. Sorry astronauts, I tried.]

There's more in the second paper, NASA/TM-2016-218603:

  • I suspect the reality is that few, if any, have been able to accomplish the tasks on-time, at least this early in flight before we have locations and common procedures memorized. Telling the ground that it took longer to perform a task than scheduled is an admission of lack of ability. And telling the ground a little more privately, through typing a crew note in OSTPV, well, takes even more time. It’s low on my priority list when I’m pressing on to the next task.

  • The fatigue from these busy weeks comes not from physical labor but from mental strain. No matter what the ground tells us, we still feel the need to chase the red line on OSTPV. And we are constantly aware that the ground is watching and evaluating.

Essentially: you just do what you can. There's an ongoing feedback loop between the schedulers and the astronauts. A lot does have to get done, but ultimately the crew and the schedulers are both human and the schedule will inevitably take hits from that.


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