Can Humans Hibernate?

By Michael Martin  |  Feb 5, 2016
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Remember that time you woke up at 12pm on a Sunday only to fall back asleep until 2pm? Or what about that snow day that you spent you spent bundled up under the blankets dozing off once an hour every hour? Times like these beg the question: can humans actually hibernate?

Science says yes. In recent years, there have been documented cases of humans hibernating.  Researchers say they could be examples of the human body’s natural ability to shut down in the short-to-medium term and still maintain life.

In February 2012, a group of Swedish snowmobilers found a man who had been trapped in his car, underneath a snowdrift, for weeks with very little food. Doctors determined that he survived by reducing his body temperature to 88 degrees Fahrenheit — a similar process to what bears go through each winter.

An even more extreme case occurred in Japan, when an injured mountain climber survived for three weeks in freezing temperatures with a body temperature of 72 degrees. Doctors theorized that natural survival instincts kicked in to preserve his brains and organs until his injuries could be repaired.

The benefits of hibernation are pretty profound for science. Researchers are working on an intentional method of putting people into a hibernating state, particularly people who’ve suffered traumatic brain injuries. Those patients are typically put into medically induced comas so their bodies can heal without additional stressors. Astronauts could also benefit on travels into deep space: Less food and supplies would lighten cargo loads and enable journeys to last longer, and astronauts could chill in heavy radiation-proof pods to stay protected from the cosmos’ powerful rays. It’s something that NASA is looking into it now.

Whether you’ll be able to order up a hibernation pod recreationally as easily as a hangover IV service is a big question mark — but it’s perhaps inevitable. In the meantime, you might want to cope with grey skies and sub-arctic temps by getting a light box and an Amazon Fire stick. Bring it on, winter. 

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