Can humans hibernate? © Getty Images

Can humans hibernate?

No matter how difficult it is to wake up for work, true hibernation is something quite different - and potentially risky.

Asked by: Rucha Potduke, Berkshire

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There are apocryphal stories of medieval Russian peasants surviving the winter famine by spending six months almost constantly asleep. But true hibernation is more like extended hypothermia than sleep and there are lots of serious side effects.

Hibernating mammals accumulate mucus in their lungs and suffer memory loss and suppressed immune systems. Medically induced hypothermic comas of up to two weeks have been used to treat brain injuries, but tests on healthy humans are a long way off.


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