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Walk Tall. (Lie down taller!). An Old Wives’ Tale?. It used to be said that you’re taller in bed than standing up. Is this true?. Use a hardback copy to mark top of head and make sure it’s horizontal. Measure from floor to hardback. Make sure the metre sticks are vertical.

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Walk tall

Walk Tall

(Lie down taller!)

The Professional Development Service for Teachers is funded by the

Department of Education and Skills under the National Development Plan


An old wives tale
An Old Wives’ Tale?

  • It used to be said that you’re taller in bed than standing up. Is this true?

PDST Resources for Leaving Certificate Physics2


Measuring height

Use a hardback copy to mark top of head and make sure it’s horizontal. Measure from floor to hardback. Make sure the metre sticks are vertical.

This student’s height when standing was 179 cm.

Measuring height

PDST Resources for Leaving Certificate Physics3


And lying down

Then lie down with your feet touching the wall. Use a hardback copy to mark the top of the head. Measure from the wall to the hardback

Lying down, this student’s height was measured as 183 cm.

... and lying down

PDST Resources for Leaving Certificate Physics4


The old wives were right
The old wives were right! hardback copy to mark the top of the head. Measure from the wall to the hardback

  • This student’s height was 179 cm standing up and 183 cm lying down. What was the percentage increase in height?

  • Why do you think he was taller lying down?

PDST Resources for Leaving Certificate Physics5


Answer 1 percentage increase
Answer 1: Percentage Increase hardback copy to mark the top of the head. Measure from the wall to the hardback

  • The percentage increase was:

PDST Resources for Leaving Certificate Physics6


Answer 2 why
Answer 2: Why? hardback copy to mark the top of the head. Measure from the wall to the hardback

  • The spine is made of small bones called vertebrae.

  • Between each vertebra is a fluid filled disc.

  • Standing up, your own weight slightly compresses these discs.

  • Lying down, the discs are under less pressure and have more volume.

PDST Resources for Leaving Certificate Physics7


I don t get it
I don’t get it? hardback copy to mark the top of the head. Measure from the wall to the hardback

  • You are not as tall standing up because your weight slightly squashes the discs in your spine.

  • These discs behave like water balloons.

  • Try this yourself. How much taller are you lying down?

PDST Resources for Leaving Certificate Physics8


Further questions
Further Questions hardback copy to mark the top of the head. Measure from the wall to the hardback

  • Would someone be taller standing on the moon than standing on earth? Why?

  • Find the average difference in height standing vs. lying down for your class.

PDST Resources for Leaving Certificate Physics9