Enough lying about

October 23, 2013
Energy measurements. Credit: ESA

ESA's volunteers recently finished their third and last session lying in bed in the interest of spaceflight and science. They can return to their normal lives after spending their last 21 days in bed with their feet up – once their bodies have recuperated from the experience.

When return from a long flight they can need days for their bodies to recuperate from the effects of living in weightlessness. Bedrest studies recreate some aspects of spaceflight to allow scientists to probe how their bodies react and test methods for keeping future astronauts fit and healthy.

This latest study, held in Toulouse, France, tested a high-protein diet and an that involves pushing the volunteers down onto vibrating plates while doing upside-down squats.

Resting in and getting paid for it might sound like an ideal job, but bedrest puts a huge strain on the participants as they submit themselves to days of monotony, constant tests and a strict diet without being allowed to get up for a walk, fresh air, a shower or even the toilet.

"The first days of each session were the worst," says Marc Marenco. "The body needs to adapt and I had migraines and backaches."

In return, the 'pillownauts' can feel proud of their contribution to the science of as well as helping bedridden people on Earth. 

"We are a reference for many articles, I think the data will help scientists move a step further in their research," explains Daniel Fandino, who works in a bar when not lying down. 

This volunteer spent three weeks in bed with his body tilted 6° below the horizontal. He was not allowed to stand up unless for an experiment and performed all daily activities in bed, including eating, showering and exercising. Bedrest studies can answer questions on how our bodies adapt to living in space and dapt to growing old. Credit: CNES-E. Grimault, 2013

Just like real astronauts, the pillownauts had to spend time readjusting to upright life in Earth's gravity as well as finishing tests before they could return to normal life.

Researchers will now study the data from the experiments. The study was organised by ESA in cooperation with France's CNES space agency and run at the MEDES clinical research facility in Toulouse.

Explore further: Sleeping for science: What can we learn?

Related Stories

Sleeping for science: What can we learn?

November 13, 2012

(Phys.org)—Why are 12 volunteers about to spend 21 days in bed, lying with their heads tilted below the horizontal? Their experience will help to understand and address changes in astronauts' bodies in space as well as ...

Stress to rest

April 30, 2013

On Sunday, ESA's bedrest volunteers began lying down for their second three-week session with their heads angled below the horizontal to help research the effects of weightlessness on the human body.

Six degrees of inclination

December 5, 2012

(Phys.org)—Stay in a tilted bed for weeks with your head at the lower end and your body starts to change as if it were ageing prematurely or living in space. Twelve volunteers in ESA's bedrest study are enduring the testing ...

Astronauts exploring the depths

October 7, 2013

Usually, ESA sends astronauts to outer space, but last week six astronauts from around the world spent six days underground to get a taste of working together in extreme conditions.

Measuring skull pressure without the headache

December 20, 2012

Space research has developed a new way of measuring the pressure inside your skull using simple sound waves from headphones. The device is an effective early-warning system for patients recovering from head injury or brain ...

The worm that feels at home in space

July 11, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Astronauts return to Earth weakened and unsteady after weightlessness and radiation in space take their toll on the human body. New research now shows that the humble nematode worm adapts much better to spaceflight.

Recommended for you

NASA telescope studies quirky comet 45P

November 22, 2017

When comet 45P zipped past Earth early in 2017, researchers observing from NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility, or IRTF, in Hawai'i gave the long-time trekker a thorough astronomical checkup. The results help fill in crucial ...

Uncovering the origins of galaxies' halos

November 21, 2017

Using the Subaru Telescope atop Maunakea, researchers have identified 11 dwarf galaxies and two star-containing halos in the outer region of a large spiral galaxy 25 million light-years away from Earth. The findings, published ...

Cassini image mosaic: A farewell to Saturn

November 21, 2017

In a fitting farewell to the planet that had been its home for over 13 years, the Cassini spacecraft took one last, lingering look at Saturn and its splendid rings during the final leg of its journey and snapped a series ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.