Is it the best job in the world to get paid as long as you lie down and promote scientific progress?
Is it the best job in the world to get paid as long as you lie down and promote scientific progress?
To put it simply: not really

(this article starts in the fruit shell)

lazy people who have difficulty getting up may have the same dream: live a life that only needs to lie flat all day, and never get out of bed without getting out of bed. It would be great if there is a job in the world that can be paid as long as you lie down all day.

in fact, there is such a job, and it can contribute to science-but the process is far from as pleasant as people think.

this study specializes in hiring people to lie down.

Space agencies such as NASA and ESA recruit volunteers from time to time to stay in bed all day to conduct "bed rest research" (Bedrest studies).

(photo source: ESA)

these bedridden experiments are basically designed to simulate human changes in weightlessness. In space, the astronauts' bodies will undergo many changes, such as head swelling, muscle atrophy and bone loss. Similar changes occur in subjects who have been bedridden for a long time, through which researchers can study the patterns of these changes and what measures can improve the health of astronauts.

it is naturally ideal to directly observe astronauts in weightlessness, but after all, the cost of sending people into space is too high, and the size of observable samples is too small. As a result, "pillow astronaut" (pillownauts, a nickname for bedridden experimental volunteers) can provide important data additions.

in addition to the aerospace industry, the data obtained from these volunteers can also be applied to patients who are bedridden for a long time to help them recover better.

these bed rest experiments usually recruit healthy volunteers between the ages of 20 and 45, who sometimes only need to lie down for five days, but sometimes the formal part of the experiment lasts as long as three months. Participation in the experiment can be paid, for example, a recent 60-day bed experiment in Germany was reported to pay volunteers 16500 euros [1].

isn't it perfect to lie down all day and get paid? No, you will think so, which only means that you know nothing about the hard work of bedridden.

the bed rest experiment is not just lying down, it is actually much stricter and harder than people think. On the introduction page, ESA stressed that the experiments wanted "highly motivated" volunteers. Only those who can spare a lot of time and are willing to overcome difficulties for the space cause can be competent.

lie down, but not flat

first of all, the subjects are not "lying flat" in bed. Usually, their bedside angle is lowered by 6 °and is actually slightly upside down. Why are you doing this? Astronauts will enter the state of "head swollen and legs thinner" in weightlessness, which can be more simulated by lying head down, and the researchers think that lowering the head of the bed by 6 °is the best angle to strike a balance between the effect and the subjects' feelings.

(the subjects lay on a sloping bed. Photo: ESA)

lying around day and night is actually uncomfortable, especially in the first few days of the experiment. Subjects often complained of headaches and back pain-the most common symptom in the early stages of the experiment. In addition, experienced Andrew Iwanicki also said that a sloping bed always puts his head to the head of the bed when he falls asleep.

how to live lying down?

lying down all day also means that the subjects have to say goodbye to their daily habits thoroughly. During the experiment, not only do you have to say goodbye to all your plans to go to work, go to school or go out to play, but also eat, take a bath and go to the bathroom all in bed.

according to the requirements of the European Space Agency (ESA), subjects should keep at least one shoulder on the bed at all times during the experiment. When you eat, you either lie on your stomach or lie on your side; you can only use the same urinals as bedridden patients when you go to the toilet; and when you take a bath, you have to use a hand-held shower [2]-- this posture not only makes it very difficult to wash the whole body. And if you're not careful, you'll have to pour water into your nostrils.

Don't be lazy and exercise while lying down

during bed rest and before and after the experiment, the subjects naturally need to carry out a lot of tests, and cooperate with the researchers to test various "intervention methods" to verify whether they can reduce the adverse effects of weightlessness on health. These methods may be some kind of high-protein supplement, or a custom exercise program.

Common research projects include regular muscle and bone mineral density tests and exercise under the guidance of researchers-yes, even though you lie down, you still need to exercise. Of course, the fitness equipment of the bedridden subjects is also special, such as the bike that can be pedaled lying down in the picture below. While exercising, you should also carry out a series of tests such as heartbeat, blood pressure, oxygen consumption and so on.

(exercise lying down. Photo Source: ESA)

in some studies, there are other additional projects to be done, such as the testing of "artificial gravity" in a new round of experiments that just began in March 2019. How exactly is "artificial gravity" done? In fact, the subjects had to "shake" on a short-arm centrifuge on a regular basis to make it easier for the blood to spread to the legs.

(centrifuge for "artificial gravity" experiments. Photo Source: ESA)

there is no problem with playing TV series, but you can't eat snacks

except for the items required by daily inspection and experiment, you can spend the rest of your time freely. If you want to watch a play, play games, read a book or surf the Internet, it's all right-as long as you don't get up. The researchers do not have any special restrictions on people's entertainment activities.After all, if there are any more restrictions, it will be really impossible to live a life.

(of course, you can also play with the people next to you. Photo Source: Johnson Space Center)

however, it may not be enough to play games and surf the Internet aimlessly if you want to fight against the monotony of 2-3 months. ESA also recommends that subjects use this time away from the hustle and bustle to do something planned, such as learning a foreign language or writing a manuscript. In this way, life in bed can be more fulfilling, and it may also have a wonderful effect on solving procrastination.

although I have a lot of free time, I still can't enjoy some fun during the experiment-such as the freedom to choose my favorite food. In the study, the subjects' diets were strictly controlled. Brushing the show with potato chips? Forget it. Order takeout or ask a friend to take food? It doesn't exist. What if I'm dissatisfied with the meal? I'm sorry, but in order to keep the data consistent, you still have to eat as planned, and the most concession is limited to seasoning more black pepper.

in addition, gregarious subjects may also feel quite lonely. Although friends and relatives can come to visit (it feels like being in hospital), they can communicate on the phone or online, but it's impossible to get up and give them a hug or go to a party. What, you say you hate socializing? Well, then.

getting up is the real challenge

anyway, the bedridden days are always over. As long as you stick to it for 2-3 months at most, you can get up happily and take the money and leave.

No, no, you're thinking too much. A body that has adapted to weightlessness in bed is not able to walk freely. Just like the astronauts who have just returned, pillow astronauts have to take some time to adapt to "life on Earth".

(adjusted to a nearly vertical bed. Photo Source: ESA)

at the end of the experiment, the researchers will first help the subjects slowly adjust the angle of the bed until the bed is made vertical. They will first encourage pillow astronauts to try to stand for 15 minutes, but it is said that no one can really last that long. With a sudden change in blood distribution, atrophied leg muscles, and a loss of balance, most of the subjects could not stand after a few minutes. The experienced Andrew Iwanicki said that the long-lost upright made his heart beat faster, his cold sweat ran straight, his eyes blackened, and he felt that he was going to pass out the next moment [4]. Another subject, Dorota, wrote in bed Diary: "after getting up, it feels like the whole world is moving all the time."

(a pillow astronaut is training to restore balance. Photo Source: ESA)

fortunately, the human body is indeed very adaptable. After weeks of rehabilitation training, pillow astronauts can return to their original state and return to their daily lives.

(at NASA's flight simulation research center, the ceiling is decorated with commemorative graffiti left by pillow astronauts. Photo Source: Andrew Iwanicki/VICE)

seeing this, would you still want this job lying down all day?

if you still want to, make sure you can take the next three months off.

(but in fact, I really want to experience, after all, it is a very special life experience ~ I also want to take a plane simulating weightlessness! )




[3] _ health


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