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NASA bed rest study

A NASA research program will pay participants $18,000 to remain horizontal in a bed for a period of 70 days.  The study was devised to examine the effects of prolonged exposure to microgravity (a condition in which there is very little net gravitational force) by simulating the effects of a long-duration space flight, according to Outside.

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Participants in NASA’s research program can reportedly chat on the phone, Skype, play games, work remotely on their laptops, read books, take online courses, and more — as long as they remain in bed.

The subjects will be lying in beds that are tilted head-down at a six-degree angle, which causes the body’s fluids to shift to the upper part of the body much like they do in space. The clinicians monitoring the program will be examining muscle atrophy (the wasting away of muscle) and bone density as well as cardiovascular function.

After the subjects have been in bed for an extended period of time, they are then put through a series of exercises, such as walking on a treadmill or doing squats. The only difference is that they will be subjected to walking on a vertical treadmill and squatting in a horizontal position.

Wondering about showering?  Since the subjects must remain at a six-degree head tilt at all times, they are able to shower in a specially modified shower gurney.

NASA is looking for healthy and extremely fit individuals. Consequently, applicants for the bed rest study will be put through a rigorous testing process before they receive a stamp of approval. The candidates will undergo an extremely thorough physical and psychological exam and have a one-on-one with a shrink in order for clinicians to determine whether applicants can tolerate the physical and mental rigors of lying in a bed for 70 days, which not everyone can tolerate.

Therefore, if you’re a run-of-the-mill couch potato looking for a quick payday, you need not apply to the study. Dr. Roni Cromwell, a senior scientist with the bed rest program who spoke to the Outside warns, “We want to make sure we select people who are mentally ready to spend 70 days in bed. Not every type of person can tolerate an extended time in bed.”

These types of studies are conducted to minimize the changes that occur in the body during spaceflight and inform researchers on how to return one’s system to normal body function once back on earth.

If you’d like to find out more about the NASA bed rest program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, you can apply here.

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