Paid To Sleep? NASA Offers Test Subjects $18,000 To Stay In Bed

September 24, 2013  |  

It sounds almost too good to be true: NASA is paying out $18,000 for participants to lie in a bed that is uniquely designed to mimic space’s zero-gravity environment. The catch? You’ll have to stay in bed for more than two months, ABC News reports.

Subjects are being paid such a hefty compensation due to the harmful physical effects of staying motionless in bed for long periods of time. “[P]articipants will experience a host of physical effects including atrophying muscles and a decrease of bone density. In addition, a person’s overall fitness can decrease, since their hearts don’t have to work as hard to pump blood,” ABC News added.

Beth Ann Shriber, who participated in a similar study seven years ago, explained her experience with NASA’s Bed Rest project:

“Shriber was there 90 days. That’s three months of not just lying down, but lying down with her head about 5 inches lower than her feet at all times. When she ate, when she slept, when she showered, when she went to the bathroom – her body stayed at a 6 degree tilt through it all. She could roll over or prop herself up on an elbow, but sitting or standing was off limits. It wasn’t exactly hard, Shriber said, but she wouldn’t call being a test subject in NASA’s Bed Rest Project easy, either.”

“You don’t have to do anything but lie here,” Shriber said in an article on NASA.gov. “I would say it’s more about enduring.”

Despite the challenges, however, NASA still receives “numerous” requests from past participants that wish to engage in the experiment again, said John Neigut, a researcher with the NASA Flight Analogs Project.

The purpose behind this study is to analyze the lasting effects of weightlessness on astronauts. “In space there is no gravity to keep fluid from traveling towards the top of the body, so study participants lie with their head slightly lower than their feet,” ABC said. “Certain subjects will be able to periodically exercise on specially designed equipment like a vertical treadmill.”

To be recruited for the study, participants will need to pass a modified Air Force Class physical which includes a test screening for drugs, alcohol and infectious diseases. The study will take place in NASA’s Human Test Subject Facility at the University of Texas.

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