Tag Archives: back pain

Please Invent This: Zero-G Sleeping Device

I’m a pretty busy guy, so I don’t really have the time nor the energy to implement every single great idea for a new invention that I think of.  So I’m going to just release any idea trademarks that I might have enjoyed and put my invention ideas out to the general public for implementation.  If you do actually end up getting filthy rich off of any of my invention ideas, I won’t sue you but please feel free to send me a little of your filthy money just to make certain that you are able to sleep soundly at night.  🙂

[image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stacks_of_money.jpg]

Ever since I saw a video back in the early 90’s showing Shuttle astronauts sleeping in zero-G, I’ve been slightly obsessed with the idea of creating a way to sleep in your natural weightless body posture here on the ground.  It’s nothing I’ve ever actually done anything about, but had in the back of my mind that I was going to invent some sort of magical zero-G sleeping device and become rich and famous someday.

[image from http://flightwork.blogspot.com/2008/01/when-astronauts-sleep.html]

Weightless Posture

Astronauts (and space tourists) who sleep in zero-G take on a natural body posture like the posture shown in the below sketch.  Their muscles all relax and their arms float up in front of their face.  They crouch over ever so slightly and their head tilts down just a bit.  Their legs are bent at the waist and also at the knees.  It’s almost like a recliner position, but with your hands out in front of you.

[image from http://msis.jsc.nasa.gov/sections/section03.htm#Figure%]

Previous Attempts

There appears to be no simple way to reproduce this natural zero-G posture down on the ground.  There is a popular massage chair called the “ZeroG Immersion Massage Chair” that is basically a big poofy recliner on steroids.  I could probably take a nap in this chair for a couple of hours but I doubt I could sleep soundly for a whole night in it.

[image from http://shop.humantouch.com/zerog-2.html]

There are lots of mattress companies that claim to put your body in the most natural position.  Most of the mattress designs I’ve seen advertised try to give you the most properly aligned spine:

[image from http://www.weknowmattresses.com/2012/02/proper-spinal-alignment/]

But can a single mattress really be comfortable for all the different sleeping positions like side, back, stomach?  Many people who sleep on their backs will snore on their backs.  Many people who sleep on their stomach will have back problems due to the unnatural arching of the back in that position.  Many people who sleep on their side will have to flip sides every couple hours during the night which is pretty annoying.

There are some pillow solutions that help separate the legs and align the spine and these can also help you put your arms in a more natural position.

[image from http://www.necksolutions.com/body-pillow.html]

Tossing & Turning

I’m not a doctor, but I’m guessing that the reason we toss and turn during the night is that our bodies tell us that we need to move based on circulation issues and such.  I wonder if astronauts toss and turn in zero-G at all.  I’m betting they do not because their body is in the natural position and their skin and muscles are not being compressed.  So how can we  minimize our skin and muscles being compressed down here on the ground?

[image from https://naturessleep.com/Blog/TabId/152/Month/6/Year/2012/Default.aspx]

I used to SCUBA dive quite a bit when I was younger.  When neutrally buoyant, you just float in mid-water so to speak.  You don’t rise or fall and there is nothing but your wet suit and SCUBA gear pressing on your skin.  I’ve wondered many times if it would be possible to sleep while neutrally buoyant under water.  That’s not very practical.  Not to mention quite dangerous.  But it would be an interesting experiment, I think.

[image from http://www.amberwavesdiving.com/scuba-school/advance-your-training]

Possible Solutions

By taking the underwater sleeping idea and making a more practical version of it, is there a way to make a micro-bead (styrofoam balls) sort of device or a gel filled device that would support your whole body and keep it in the natural posture while you sleep?  You would want to maximize the support in order to minimize the circulation issues and the tossing and turning problems.

Would it work to cut holes or slots in an existing mattress for the arms and legs to slide into?  Would it be too restrictive to try to sleep that way?  How could you get the feel and movement of water without actually being in water?

Is it more comfortable and natural to be leaning backwards in a recliner or leaning forwards face down?  Those portable massage chairs that are basically like a reverse recliner where you are actually face down in the chair with your face poking through a hole in the headrest seems like it might be close to a solution to the problem … as long as there was a way to maximize and spread out the support so that it would minimize the pressure on your skin and muscles.

[image from http://www.relaxforsuccess.com/55.html]

I believe a laid back solution is a snoring issue, but a face down solution at just the right angle just may be the thing that makes your body feel balanced.  If you leaned too far forward you would feel like you are falling and the blood would rush to your head, though.  It would have to be just the right angle leaning forward.  Would a combination of a modified face-down massage chair with lots of added memory foam or a gel material do the trick if it were tilted forward to just the right angle?

Are there any other ways to essentially hover a person in mid-air?  Think outside the box!  Come up with a solution!  Make millions of bucks!  I don’t want to necessarily become rich and famous, but I would like a good night’s sleep so I will definitely buy one if a solution is found!

Please invent this.  Thanks,


Gravity boots on the cheap!

I recently made my own gravity boots using parts that can be found at your local hardware or home improvement store.  I have some coworkers with severe back problems who have shown significant improvements while using inversion therapy.  So I wanted to try it out for myself, but I didn’t want to invest hundreds of dollars in the equipment without knowing whether or not inversion therapy would even work for me.  My solution … make my own to try out before buying.


The theory behind inversion therapy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inversion_therapy) is that it uncompresses the soft disks in your spine and allows moisture back into them.  Other touted benefits are improved posture and improved circulation & oxygen to the brain. Critics of inversion therapy suggest that the touted benefits are not real and have not been proven.  Critics also maintain that inversion therapy is dangerous because of the risk of falling and also the danger imposed by the increase in blood pressure in the head and eyes.


I must insist that nobody try making their own gravity boots at home.  If you fall on your head, you could get seriously injured and I cannot be held liable.  Even if you don’t fall on your head, there are other physical and physiological dangers involved, so again, please do not try this at home.


I looked at the Teeter Hang Ups gravity boots to get an idea of how these things were designed (see photo).  This appears to be a very popular brand, according to Google search.  These boots appear to be a pretty simple design just from looking at the photos.  They appear to be basically a piece of plastic around your calves with a heavy duty hook attached to the plastic and foam for cushioning and buckles that tighten similar to roller blade or ski boot buckles.



I own a typical door frame pull up bar that I’ve had for eons (see photo), so I thought I could use this pull up bar to hang upside down from.  I just needed some boots to strap around my ankles with a heavy duty hook attached securely to the boots.


I tried making these gravity boots three different ways before I finally got it right.  My first attempt used denim from an old pair of jeans to wrap around my calves with some utility hooks bolted through the denim (see photo).


I wrapped a hand towel around my calves first for cushioning and then the denim contraption around that and tied the denim ends together in a knot as tightly as I could.  It felt fairly strong, but when I carefully let more and more of my weight on it while hanging from the pull up bar, the denim started to tear.  Not strong enough.  Now I can see why they used plastic on the commercial product.  Denim is tough, but not strong enough to hold my weight.

So for my second attempt, I used the plastic from an old mop bucket that was laying around the garage and I bolted the same utility hooks onto this plastic and wrapped it around my legs … also around a towel for cushioning.  I don’t have a photo of this configuration because I tore it up and used the plastic for something else before taking a photo.

This configuration was definitely stronger than the denim, but the plastic torqued enough when I tried to put my full weight on it, that I didn’t feel good about the situation.  I decided that these particular utility hooks had too large of a radius which was making them rotate away from my calves instead of just pulling straight up along the plastic bucket surface.  I decided that I needed a smaller radius hook that was also very strong.  So I went shopping at my local Lowe’s home improvement store.

I found these heavy duty utility J-hooks (see photo) at Lowe’s.  They are made by Tornado and they are small yet very strong.  I also bought some nice big bolts to attach the hooks with and I also bought a 5 gallon bucket to use as the base plastic.  I also bought some squishy foam matting … the kind that cashiers stand on all day to cushion their feet.


I had some 2-inch wide strips of Velcro laying around that I used to strap the boots tightly around my calves.  The Velcro holds very well when it has lots of surface area all the way around the whole boot to attach to.  You can see one of my fully assembled gravity boots in the photo below.


Getting them closed tightly enough to not immediately slip and pull on my ankles took lots of trial and error, but I’ve got a system now that seems to work pretty well.  I decided that the rubberized foam matting that I bought at Lowe’s was too stiff and not really helping to hold on to my calves, so I bought some light pillow foam at WalMart and I wrap that around my calves first and then put the gravity boots on over that and the combination seems to work pretty well at holding onto my calves without allowing too much slippage.  Below is a photo of me using my home made gravity boots.


When I first started using these home made gravity boots, I could only stand to be upside down for about 5 minutes at a time.  After a few days I could do 10 minutes, then after a few weeks I could do 15 minutes.  Usually what keeps me from hanging longer is that my legs or feet go to sleep and then start to hurt.  So I’m wondering if the commercial gravity boots are able to hold on to your calves tightly enough to not slip, but without cutting off your circulation.  Seems like a fine line to me.  Maybe the key is using the right kind of foam that can grip your calves without having to be too tight.


Do they work?  Do they help my lower back pain?  Well, kind of.  That’s the best answer I can give right now.  I’ve only been using inversion therapy for a couple of weeks so far, and I haven’t been able to do it as regularly as I’d like.   But sometimes after hanging upside down I can tell that my back pain has immediately stopped.  Other times, I don’t notice any difference at all.  So I don’t have any significant and repeatable short term results to share, but I’m going to try it long term and see if I can notice a long term difference in my lower back pain.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any comments or questions on this article, please be my guest.  Article comments can be read by anyone on the Internet, so if you’d rather send me a private message, just email me directly.


Update: Click on the “ad” below to buy the Teeter brand Hang Ups gravity boots on Amazon.com: