Can humans hibernate?

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Offline Letty

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Can humans hibernate?
« on: 30/11/2009 18:30:03 »
Letty asked the Naked Scientists:
Hi there,

Last night my partner and I were talking about how nice it would be if we could hibernate. Then I couldn't help but wonder; why can't we?

Bears can hibernate (and go without food) because they build up reserves/ body fat towards the start of their hibernation. Also, they can go into that 'ubersleep' that humans cannot.  

But then, say, if you'd put a morbidly obese person in an induced coma -without tube-feeding; he wouldn't last as long as a hibernating bear; right?

Why is it that bears can do that, but we can't?

I know my example isn't very ethical, but I was just wondering if you could enlighten us in this matter. :-)

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 08/12/2009 12:23:03 by Letty »


Offline ...lets split up...

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Re: Can humans hibernate?
« Reply #1 on: 01/12/2009 11:07:27 »
If someone is asleep their body's processes do not slow down like a bears does. The levels of oxygen your body requires and your metobolic process are nowhere near a hybernationg animal's.

We simply do not have the genetic coding to go into hybernation mode.

I suggest being cryogenically frozen for winter every year, but this will probably be expensive, i heard they've had luck bringing back chicken's from the cryosleep. Probably looking for willing candidates.
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Offline Don_1

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Re: Can humans hibernate?
« Reply #2 on: 01/12/2009 12:03:48 »
Coincidentally, I have just put my two little chums into hibernation (Testudeo Graeca).

Because they are shelled, they cannot store fats for utilisation during this period, unlike most other animals, so their body functions must slow right down. Their metabolic rate is so reduced, that over the 10 - 14 weeks of hibernation they will loose less than 10% of their body weight.

Prior to hibernation, a tortoise will starve for several days, for small young individuals, to 3 or more weeks for the older and larger individuals. This is to ensure that the entire digestive tract is completely empty. Any remaining food, part digested food, faeces or urates may rot or ferment, killing the animal while it hibernates. Only the bladder remains full, so the animal remains hydrated.

Bears, however, do not go into full hibernation, as a tortoise does. It is sometimes referred to as 'denning'. In this state the animal may waken periodically during the hibernation. This would probably be the best option for humans, but I doubt we could train our body's to actually do it.
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