Think about it. You spend about one third of your life sleeping. And chances are, you are doing that in your warm cozy bed. But what if you spent ALL of your time in bed? What if you never left? That soft mattress can’t hurt you right…right?! Sadly, it can… And believe it or not, NASA paid a guy 18 thousand dollars to lie in bed for 70 days. They wanted to study the effects of micro gravity on the human body and lying down for so long simulates the effects of long-haul flights on astronauts’ bodies.
Now, the beds were tilted back six degrees, causing the bodily fluids to shift to the upper body, which duplicated some of the effects of low-gravity environments. After the 70 days, the first time the volunteer was vertical, his heart rate jumped to 150 beats per minute and felt like he was going to collapse, which is definitely not great for an otherwise-healthy man. But this study is different than most, because it simulated micro gravity.
Instead, let’s talk about what would happen if you never left a normal bed that wasn’t tilted backwards. Well, firstly, you will probably start to develop bedsores. These are caused by the pressure on the skin that limits the amount of blood flow to the skin and nearby tissues. Basically, imagine this: the tissue between your bones and the bed is under a lot of pressure from your body weight. And if that pressure is great enough, the nutrient-rich blood won’t be able to reach your cells and they will be damaged and eventually die. The sores usually occur in areas like your tailbone, hips, and shoulder blades. And be warned: they are not pretty.
Secondly, you’ll start to get weaker – especially if you are immobile in the bed. You see, muscles at complete rest lose 10 to 15 percent of their strength per week. In just 3 to 5 weeks, the muscle will lost nearly half of its strength. So good luck lifting that laptop on your lap as easily as before. Complete rest will also cause your endurance to decrease, leading to fatigue and even more inactivity. And your muscles will begin to atrophy too, losing their mass. Following that, your bones also lose their mass, eventually stabilizing around 40 to 70% of their original mass. This is caused by increased bone resorption, which is a process that breaks bones down, eventually fast enough that it outweighs the rate of new bone growth. And this can lead to conditions like osteoporosis. And on top of all that, every two days of immobilization, your resting heart rate increases by one beat per minute, eventually plateauing. And even more, your blood volume decreases as well. Because of this, since the blood carries oxygen, there is less oxygen uptake by your cells, which means you’ll get tired much more easily.
But wait, there is more! There are tons of other negative effects of bed rest, like increased anxiety, increased risk of kidney stones, and increased risk of pneumonia. So, while your bed may be incredibly comfortable, you should definitely try to limit the time you spend in it. Trust me, your body will thank you.