As with science fiction films, scientists are constantly trying to research the concept of hibernating sleep in humans. One of them is through the method of lowering the human body temperature to near the freezing temperature of the water with the aim of slowing down cell and brain function.
The European Space Agency has just announced the results of their latest research on hibernation to send astronauts into space.
The research was carried out by Roberto F. Nespolo and Carlos Mejias from the Millennium Institute for Integrative Biology and Francisco Bozinovic from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.
The three scientists sought to find a correlation between body mass and energy expenditure in hibernating animals. They found a minimum metabolic rate that allows cells to survive in cold, low-oxygen conditions.
However, from the results of their calculations, the energy savings that are expected to be close to hibernation in humans are actually very difficult to do.
Hibernation is a long sleep activity. Generally carried out by warm-blooded animals. For example bears, birds, and other small mammals. The goal is to survive. For example in winter conditions.
This is because when winter comes, the food supply will decrease. Thus, these animals must rest for up to 9 months. During hibernation, the animal’s metabolic state decreases. Starting from the heart rate, and body temperature until fat reserves will be used as a source of energy during sleep. This process can cut energy expenditure by up to 98 percent in some cases, eliminating the need to hunt or forage.
Even under these conditions, hibernating animals can still lose more than a quarter of their body weight due to burning energy reserves.
The scientists applied the same basic math to hibernating adults. It is known that the daily human food intake of 12,000 kilojoules will be replaced by the need for only a few hundred kilojoules of body fat.
Under this scenario, the astronauts lying in a special hibernation bed would lose more than six grams of fat a day. Over the course of a year, the amount will be two kilograms of fat.
But, if astronauts want to explore space by hibernation to survive for several decades to explore space, then the astronauts need a few hundred kilograms of extra fat.
Then, the researchers performed statistical analyzes of the various hibernating species. From this, they deduced the daily energy expenditure of hibernating animals.
It was concluded that animals with active metabolisms and building body mass-produced graphs that revealed the point at which hibernation did not actually save much energy for large animals.
The research implies that the total energy requirements of hibernating humans will not differ significantly from those we need when we are just resting.
This could be the reason why bears don’t really hibernate as smaller animals do. And for humans, taking all the risks and hardships of cooling the body, lowering heart and breathing rates, and artificially suppressing metabolism may not give us the results we hope for.
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