There are days when I'd just like to lie in bed. All day.
If you've thought the same thing, then, boy, have I got a deal for you. Wired reports that NASA is offering a study that will pay people $17,000 to stay in bed for 90 straight days.
Of course, there's a catch or two.
You have to be willing to travel to the Johnson Space Center. The bed-rest experiment will take place in the Human Test Subject Facility, where scientists will study some of the effects of microgravity on the human body.
According to NASA's web site, "participants will spend 90 days lying in bed, (except for limited times for specific tests) with their body slightly titled downward (head down, feet up). Every day, they will be awake for 16 hours and lights out (asleep) for 8 hours."
They never say whether you have to lie on your back or face down, but the photo on the Bed Rest Study web page shows a woman on her stomach. Thank God. I don't think I could stand lying on my back with my head slightly down. What if you got a stuffy nose during all of this?
And actually, you're going to be at NASA for around 115-120 days. The first two weeks, you get to walk around in your bedroom facility and, according to their web page, you "will be free to move around inside the bed rest facility and do normal things." And not so normal activities, like taking part in tests to find out the normal state of your bones, muscles, heart and circulatory system, brain and nervous system and vestibular (inner ear balance) system, as well as your nutritional condition and ability to fight off infections.
Then it's bedtime for 90 days straight, all day and all night, with a few exceptions -- you'll take part in tests to find out what changes are happening with your bones, muscles, heart and so on.
For the last two weeks, during the "recovery period," you can move about again and do "normal everyday activity," albeit slowly, predicts NASA, "because of de-conditioning that takes place during bed rest."
To participate, you have to be a nonsmoker, in good health with no history of cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal or musculoskeletal problems.
I'm a little concerned. The web page photo doesn't have a picture of a giant wide screen TV, which I'd like to think participants would get to watch. They just show a woman lying there, smiling, reading a magazine. Well, I suppose if they have a really big pile of magazines... But I don't think it's for me. Sometimes it's nice to be lazy, but in this case, being lazy never seemed like so much work.
Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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