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Feeling Lazy? NASA Pillownauts Get Paid For Staying In Bed

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Staying in bed an extra few hours in the morning feels like a mini vacation. Staying in bed for weeks on end feels like cruel and unusual punishment—but at least you can do it in the name of science. NASA pays research study participants to lie in bed as they study them. These brave souls are known as "pillownauts."

Related: How Long Can Humans Go Without Sleep?

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Being Lazy Is Exhausting

Who knew a bed rest study would be so demanding? Sure, you're not doing anything, but you're also following some very strict guidelines on what you can't do. Study participants stay in bed up to 120 days, and typically get paid $10 per waking hour. (Doesn't sound like too much, but add it up and you get more than $19,000 in just four months.) Let's see if you're still interested after you hear all the rules...

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A pillownaut's routine is seriously regimented. As Today I Found Out reports, "Smoking bans and credit checks are just the beginning. Pillownauts aren't allowed to consume alcohol or caffeine during the study, nor can they add salt to the bland hospital food that they will live on for the entire length of the study. And they must eat all of the hospital food they are served—no more and no less. That includes any and all condiments that are served with a meal. If a volunteer returns their salad with some of the dressing left in the plastic cup it came in, the cup will be returned to the volunteer so that they can slurp it down to the last drop. Unscheduled snacking isn't allowed. Nor, for that matter, are conjugal visits or naps outside of scheduled sleeping times. Pillownauts are awakened every morning at 6:00 a.m. and must remain awake until lights out at 10:00 p.m." Still interested?

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What's The Point?

It may not seem super important, but this study is critical for keeping astronauts safe in space. According to NASA, "Space travel is expensive and dangerous, but understanding the effects of living in space is critical if we are to send humans to Mars. Without gravity pulling blood flow to the legs, astronaut's heads fill with fluids resulting in 'puffy-head, bird-legs' syndrome. During bed rest studies, researches study the effects of fluid shifts in participants' bodies, as well as bone and muscle loss often experienced in weightlessness."

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