Many people think of a bear when they think of hibernation, but a bear does not hibernate very deeply at all. They go into hibernation and their body temperature drops only slightly. The real winter sleepers are reptiles, hedgehogs, and bats, for example.
Special winter sleep
For the past few months, these mammals have been eating tons of food so that they have enough fat reserves before they start hibernating. When they go to sleep, their body temperature drops dramatically, just slightly above the ambient temperature. They turn off their stove. Moreover, their heart rate slows down, they hardly have any brain activity, and their metabolism is down.
How do animals survive hibernation? How do they renew their youth because of this? Why don’t people hibernate? Chronologist Roelof Hutt and PhD student Lauren de Witt, who research DNA damage after hibernation, tell all about hibernation in the podcast Early birds and other animals. You can listen to the episode in your favorite podcast app.
man in slumber
Skip a bad harvest with a year’s sleep. Survive the space flight. Facing climate change. It would be very helpful for people to go into hibernation. But this is not the case – our bodies are not made for it.
We can learn a lot from those who sleep in the winter. When animals go into hibernation, a lot of changes in the body. For example, the brain and lungs look different and are associated with human diseases such as asthma and Alzheimer’s. After hibernation, the organs appear normal again, while in humans these types of processes are irreversible. Lauren de Wit: “Who knows, we might learn from our winter sleepers how we can treat these kinds of ailments.”
Do you want to help winter sleepers find a good place to sleep? Make sure your garden isn’t too clean, but there are crowded corners where they can hide.
Chronologist Roelof Hutt and PhD student Lauren de Witt talk all about hibernation on the podcast Early birds and other animals. You can listen to the episode in your favorite podcast app.
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