We spend somewhere around a third of our lives sleeping (or should), but what would happen if instead of getting up in the morning, we all just stayed in bed? What if you stayed in bed … indefinitely? As anyone who’s spent a lot of time in the hospital might tell you, it would get old very quickly. And more so, you’d be affecting your health.
The science video channel Noggin took a look at the current research on long-term bedrest—like the science that comes out of the NASA studies that pay people to stay in bed for months on end—to illuminate the ugly reality of spending too much time lounging around.
First and foremost: bedsores. The pressure that staying in one place lying down places on the body tissue between your mattress and your bones cuts off blood flow, typically to the tailbone, the hips, and the shoulders. Muscles you don’t use lose 10 to 15 percent of their strength every week, meaning that your body would quickly become floppy and useless. Unsurprisingly, not moving around decreases your endurance (think of how hard it is to go on your first run after a long break—and apply it to all of life). Your muscles and your bones will lose mass, your resting heart rate will go up, and your blood volume will go down.
All this is why astronauts spending time on the International Space Station have to exercise regularly, since there’s essentially no gravity for their muscles to work against. It’s like they’re in bed, all the time.
Watch the video below, and think of it every time you hit snooze in the morning. It’ll make you want to spring out of bed immediately.
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