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This post is about living at the computer. If you want to achieve 100 APM and pinpoint FPS accuracy, get a pro gamer chair and drink Mountain Dew. It is obviously possible to sacrifice comfort for intense performance. However, pretty much everything pro gamers do is wrong for long-term comfort. Optimizing comfort improves long-term mental performance aspects such as creativity, because physical discomfort is distracting.
A proper 18-hour rig causes no aches and pains and does not require getting up to stretch or walk around. You still need to get 6 hours of real sleep in a bed, but the rest of the time you can stay in the chair. You can do this for decades without developing chronic issues. Working in it takes minimal energy, leaving you fresh and rested for physical exercise.
If you are young, you will think you do not need such a lazy contraption. If you are old and wise, you will wish your younger self had used one. The cliff doesn't feel each wave, but crumbles nonetheless.
No need to reinvent the wheel. The two most ergonomic pieces of furniture are the bed and the adjustable office chair. We sleep in one and work in the other, so obviously they are the best. Why not jam them together?
2 Critiquing "lazy" setups
Google image search for "lazy computer setups" reveals some kindred spirits in sloth, but none doing it right.
Everyone knows why using a laptop in bed doesn't last long, so I'll skip that.
The main problem here is the tiny keyboard. It combines poorly with the non-adjustable armrests, causing RSI. Leather doesn't breathe well compared to mesh. There is some danger of tipping over if one adjusts position too far. There's not much ability to shift the body into different positions and remain productive. Also, there's too much looking up, due to the monitor positioning. It's lazy, but it's not a long-term immersion rig. Look how awkward keyboard positioning is in a similar setup.
This setup is better because highly adjustable. It has an ergonomic mobile chair. It uses a wheeled footrest, which is annoyingly unstable but better than nothing. The keyboard tray ergonomics are horrendous, and it lacks armrests. The mouse table looks reasonable if a bit heavy to move comfortably. The monitors are too high, but that's adjustable. He can't adjust the monitor position without getting up. He can't vary his head position much because the headrest locks him in. The fabric chair backing will grow annoying. Again, this is not a long-term immersion rig.
This attempt at computing from bed is reasonable if one literally can't sit up, but otherwise inferior due to the lack of armrests and the necessity of holding one position in order to maintain contact with the keyboard and mouse. It is much harder to touch-type without armrests. A bed is also not very breathable long-term, and causes a different wear pattern on the body. One wants to spend waking time out of bed so that sleep is comfortable.
This $30k USD solution looks excellent for multi-monitor gaming. However, it's still not ergonomic enough for an 18-hour rig. For example, it locks the body into a relatively restricted range of productive postures. The use of a keyboard tray severely limits viable wrist angles. This is fine since it's intended to reduce the strain of intense gaming, not to facilitate lazy long-term creativity. But unless you're a drone operator, your job doesn't require twitch skills.
I hear you saying, "Alright Mr. Picky, what's your solution?" Glad you asked.
3 The 18-hour rig
This is how a real slacker slouches. Warning: I flash some thigh. You may not like it, but this is what optimal thermoregulation looks like.
(Right click the photo, select "view image in new tab", and zoom in. Everything relevant is fully visible. The picture is taken from eye level.)
That's me in an ergonomic office chair lowered even with the bed. You can see my knees and feet comfortably splayed under the covers. The monitor shows me as well. I'm in boxers cuz I'll be here all day, every day. Wearing pants causes swamp crotch and jock itch, which is very distracting. My calves are resting on a pet heating pad that keeps my lower extremities delightfully toasty, while my head remains coolly alert. My head is resting on a repurposed foot pillow that supports the position perfectly.
- ergonomic office chair with breathable mesh
- low bed even with chair
- pet heating pad to warm legs under thin comforter and blanket
- boxers only, to avoid groin overheating
- big ergonomic keyboard rests stably on lap
- iMac on a plastic stool that slides easily to adjust angle
- mouse on a low plastic stool wearing an old t-shirt as a mousepad that can't get skewed
- foot-warmer pillow for adjustable headrest or chest armrest
- padded fingerless sports gloves for RSI
- temperature at 26 C
- tuque and fur scarf for temperature fluctuations and sleep
This setup allows me to adjust my leg angle anywhere from perpendicular to the bed to about 30 degrees, with my feet close to the monitor but my right calf still supported.
The angle is usually between 60 to 30 degrees, a nice range of movement that prevents neck strain. I find the specific shape of the foot-warmer pillow essential for this.
Adjusting the armrest height prevents forearms from falling asleep, and prevents clavicle tension as one's torso twists to the left or right.
Viewing the monitor at a distance is more comfortable for the eyes, and the Accessibility Zoom feature allows fine detail work.
The monitor is at a low angle, because it is more comfortable to look downward so that eyelids can be half-lowered, for less exposure of the eyeballs to air. Looking a few degrees down with one's eyes is more comfortable than looking straight ahead, due to reduced eyeball surface area exposure to the air. Eye strain is a long-term limiting factor on computer use, and drying is a major part of that.
Key to all this comfort is adjustment. It helps to have some nearby walls to push off of, to slide the chair around.
Raising the recliner transforms this setup into a lap keyboard desk using the bed corner, for sitting upright when one feels buoyant. It is uncomfortable to recline when energetic.
6 Looking down and right
One would expect looking to the right all day causes neck strain. However, consider how you sleep. Is your cervical rotation always zero? Of course not. Yet it remains comfortable to sleep with chin towards one shoulder or the other, as long as the angle is not extreme.
This is because the neck is not under load while reclining. It does not support the head's weight. Cervical rotation quickly becomes uncomfortable in an upright posture, because the neck is bearing the weight of the head while twisted.
No position remains comfortable forever, so we shift around as we sleep. An ergonomic office chair allows this, especially when paired with a bed that supports a wide range of leg positions, including one foot under the other knee.
Thus reclining in an office chair and looking down and right at a screen is little different than sleeping on one's right side. It can be done indefinitely without discomfort. One can look to the right for weeks, years, decades, without so much as stiffness. There is no such thing as needing to look left and right for an equal amount of time each day. Either the neck is under strain, or it isn't.
Eyes work the same way. Looking a few degrees to the right with one's eyeballs does not cause any long term strain.
It's actually more comfortable to use a headrest at an mild angle rather than perpendicular, because the back of one's head is pointier than the side. More skull touching the headrest equals greater comfort. There are more available positions this way, and one can slump down the chair gradually while the pillow slides along.
Unless you're a robot, you don't sleep like this. The real goal of an 18-hour setup is to achieve productivity in a natural sleeping posture. My jury-rigged setup doesn't fully achieve that goal, but it comes closer than anything else. Frankly I am skeptical about potential "improvements", because a sleeping posture should be reserved for actual sleep. I only have to slump down a few degrees to take a light nap, which seems close enough to me.
7 Strangely superior
Presumably others don't do the same because they have not suffered enough fatigue to discover what is optimal. And because their money misdirects them towards solutions superior only in price:
I get bedsores just looking at that.
Real eliteness means never having to leave one's bed. Once one has tasted the effortless fusion of mind and machine, meatspace becomes desirable only in small doses.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to rotate 45 degrees, slump down, and take a nap to something trippy. That's when I get my best ideas. How convenient that keyboard and mouse are within arm's reach…
I'd just prefer to sit at a desk. Any non-upright posture and my aim goes to shit.
Optimal gaming rigs are visible in pro gamer setups. It's an intense activity, not something sustainable all day.
I would argue it's sustainable all day to play in that position with the right chair and whatnot, but not sustainable to do highly competitive play all day. In general just like one of these setups it's a good idea to get up and stretch regardless. This is my setup. Had days where I sat a total of 12 hours comfortably.
When you're young you can do things that are bad for you, and not feel it right away. It even feels good. Energy to burn.
By all means, sit upright if you have too much energy. I would suggest reclining otherwise, though, so that you can save your energy for things that benefit from it, such as social interaction and exercise.
No, that is not a joke. I did lifting and soccer before chronic fatigue. It took me a long time to fully appreciate the relationship between fatigue and social performance. A pleasant post-exercise fatigue does mellow social anxiety, but exhaustion is dull.
Whangdoodle — Today at 6:33 AM
What if you use other peripherals? E. g., VR headset or musical instruments or drawing tablet etc.
You will probably have to sacrifice some comfort to make that work.