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NASA scientists want to pay you £12,000 to stay in bed for 70 days

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Anna Brech
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Tap your inner bed slug with a space-related experiment that will see you stay horizontal for 70 days straight.

For those of you who think, “Wow I wish I could jump into bed and just sleep for two months” - NASA may have the answer.

Scientists from the American space agency are looking for a new batch of volunteers to stay in bed for 70 days, in an experiment to see how the human body adapts to weightlessness.

The participants will be paid $15,700 (around £12,000) to be constantly monitored in their sleep during the pivotal “bed rest” study.

With such a hefty price tag, there’s an inevitable catch and the zinger is you’ll have to do everything in bed, not just sleeping.

That means getting dressed, eating, showering and generally living, all while staying in bed at a slightly tilted angle (as Sputnik News reports).

Researchers help a volunteer to work out during the 70-day study

NASA has run their bed rest studies from the Johnson Space Center in Houston since 2005. They have even invented special horizontal equipment that helps volunteers to exercise without standing up (above). 

 In 2014, NASA participant Andrew Iwanicki wrote about his experience for the website VICE, describing it as “kind of boring”.

“Some days, I read from morning until night,” he said.

“On others, I spent several hours on the phone with friends and family. I spent an ungodly amount of time fiddling with my fantasy football teams and playing StarCraft 2

“Sometimes, I would simply lie peacefully, reflecting on the past, planning for the future, or basking in a quiet moment. I was truly appreciative of these opportunities afforded by my state of isolation. But eventually, the novelty wore off.”

On a more serious note, he also had difficulty standing at the end of the experiment; an effect of the loss of blood volume that occurs by lying horizontally for so long.

He quickly recovered, celebrating with a longed-for Bloody Mary, and said the study had given him a new-found appreciation for the simple things in life, such as looking at a wide open sky.

Volunteers are encouraged to take up a hobby 

In a Q&A on their website, NASA notes that boredom during the bed rest experiments “sets in quickly” but that regular visits from family and friends should bring some relief.

Volunteers in the study can move around in bed and chat to one other; they just have to remain horizontal. 

Contrary to common perception, volunteers aren’t allowed to sleep the whole time. In fact, they often use the study as an opportunity to try a new skill, such as learning a language or following an online course.

“If you walk though our unit, you will not see people lying around bored,” says project manager Joe Neigut. “They’re very busy. Their phones are ringing. They’re usually enjoying themselves. Sometimes they’ll bring musical instruments… After a few days it feels very normal to them.” 

Data from the study will go towards helping weightless astronauts on space missions, as well as supporting bed-ridden people back here on Earth.

To find out more about the experiment and surrender to your inner bed slug, visit NASA’s bed rest page.

Images: Getty, NASA, DLR

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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