Some of us are just night owls. We like to stay up late and sleep in till the afternoon. Most of our productivity comes when the sun sets and our friends refer to us as being nocturnal. Now our parents might not be so fond of these late-night attributes but it seems like a rather large government affiliated agency has some positions opening up for those who enjoy lounging in bed.
NASA has recently announced a new position that allows their candidates to chill in bed all day long as part of their ‘bed rest studies.’
Appropriate candidates will have to stay in bed all day for the duration of 60 days.
Candidates, surprisingly, have to go through a pretty rigorous physical and psychological test in order to get this job.
I mean, you would think staying in bed for close to two months would be a pretty easy gig but NASA is interested in only those participants that display characteristics that will fit in with the ‘[NASA] astronaut population.’
But it’s actually a lot tougher than what it sounds like. The special bed that participants have to sleep on will reduce blood pressure and also cause a slow decrease in blood volume.
As the weeks pass by, muscles will begin to deteriorate and atrophy (or shrinking) will develop along the back and also down the lower half of the body.
Bone density will decrease (to simulate that experience in space) and the likelihood of getting sick will increase since the immune system is weakened.
Participants have to stay in a special bed that simulates how space affects the cardiovascular system. The bed is tilted head down at a six degree angle.
The rules stipulate that you can do whatever you please during those six weeks so long as you are in bed and lying down.
But potential candidates are split into two distinct groups. One group performs exercise using special equipment where you remain lying down while the other group cannot exercise and can only rest.
Furthermore, during those 60 days, participants are not allowed to leave the bed for any purpose. They cannot leave the bed whether it is for a shower, to go to the washroom or to get food.
This experiment is meant to study how the body reacts to extended periods of rest. It also looks at how bone and muscle atrophy affects astronauts when they go into space.
Astronauts who go into space for extended periods of time tend to come back to Earth with less bone density and some muscle atrophy since there is less gravity (resistance) up in space.
NASA hopes that this study will help them understand how to keep their space travelers healthier and in better condition.
The aim of this experiment is to find out ‘how one’s changing physiology in space may affect the process of certain missions.’
And to also ‘understand the impact of one’s physiological state on their ability to perform in particular tasks’ and to ‘prepare countermeasures to combat any impairment that these physiological conditions may impose.’
NASA conducted a similar experiment in 2014, where they paid participants $18,000 to lie down for 70 days. One of those participants was Andrew Iwanicki who wrote about his experiences for VICE.
He wrote: ‘I experienced some serious headaches because the blood pressure increased in my head. My spine went through some serious pain. Staying horizontal is difficult. I’ve been told that it is difficult for the spine to deal with all the pressure of the organs lying on the spine throughout the day.’ At one point, he even wished ‘eternal damnation upon all of NASA.’