sigourney weaver, sleep, hibernation, alien, space, astronaut, winter

Do you feel like hibernating?

Bears have the right idea with this hibernation lark, right? And anyway wouldn’t it be more economical and better for the environment (#karma) and everybody given our current mood if we just lay down for three months?

You’ll be interested to know that there are plans afoot to work out how to make humans hibernate. This is mostly a space thing as they are trying to establish how to put astronauts into a deep sleep so they can travel the enormous distances to Mars and so on. And you are probably thinking, “I am an insomniac and can only sleep for 2 hours 59 minutes a night so what the hell can they come up with to knock me out for the seven-month journey to Mars?” Swiftly followed by, “And will it be available over the counter?”

There are no known cases of natural human hibernation. But Kelly Drew, a scientist consulting for Spaceworks Enterprises, told The Smithsonian about hibernation-like experiences in her research, including ‘the practice of ‘lotska’, in which Russian peasants of yore would supposedly endure the harsh winter by awaking only once per day for 6 months to consume a small amount of bread and ale’. What’s not to love? Harvard University cardiologist Herbert Benson has also chronicled Buddhist monks who were able to lower their metabolism by 64% through certain meditation techniques. Unsure about the slow metabolism plus bread and ale but think of the sleep… Oh Dear God, the sleep.

See, there are also some things you should know about hibernation. Firstly although it resembles a deep sleep, it isn’t really. It’s just energy conservation, the extreme slowing down of the metabolism (metabolism again. Bugger.) Sort of like lying very still on the sofa while watching Carrie’s latest crisis in Homeland and eating a few nuts. Animals usually emerge from hibernation in sleep-debt. Tired. So that suddenly sounds less infinitely appealing. Also when animals hibernate, they stop producing waste. This is not possible for humans. We have no interest in a colostomy bag until it becomes totally unavoidable.  

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