Slow down, you’ll live longer

By Susan Aiello • Published: March 1st, 2012
Category: Animal Airwaves

Many wild, furry creatures settle down for a long winter’s nap to conserve energy when arctic winds whistle over the snow-covered ground and food is scarce.

But, new research on Siberian hamsters shows that during hibernation, these little fuzz balls not only slow their metabolism, but also slow and even reverse the natural genetic breakdown associated with aging. Effects were strongest during deep torpor, when body temperature plunged below 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

This protective effect is probably at work in all animals that hibernate, but not in people. Restful sleep is important for human health, but bears no relationship to hibernation.

So, as tempting as it is, if you want to cite this research as an excuse for a nap on the couch, you better have a fur coat, buck teeth and live in a hole. Otherwise, it’s back to the honey-do list.