Today is the Festival of Sleep—a day for loafin’ around the house and staying warm under the blankets amidst the dead of a chilly winter. In honor of the day, last year I posted about all the different benefits a good night of sleep brings to us as people—not just in the winter, but year-round. You can check out last year’s post right here.
But this year, I’d like to focus more on sleeping in the winter season—or, more appropriately, THROUGH—the winter season. I’m talking about hibernation.
Unfortunately, we people don’t hibernate—much as we feel we may want to! Our bodies just aren’t biologically designed to do it. So who DOES hibernate? Oh, lots of creatures! You have bears and bats—they’re the most popularly-known—but there are also mice, chipmunks, skunks, raccoons, groundhogs, snakes and a number of other reptiles, some amphibians, bees, and more.
Not all of these animals are true hibernators the way that bears and bats are. These guys fall asleep and will coast clear through winter and spring. Others, however, like raccoons and chipmunks, tend to wake up periodically to snack on some food that they have stored up. But even then, if they’ve run out of their food supply, they’ll go searching for more. Still, they sleep for much longer than you or I could ever dream.
What are these animals doing, you ask? Well, these creatures’ bodies have all adapted in one way or another to remain inactive as a means of conserving their energy. By slowing their metabolism and reducing their body temperature considerably, these creatures stay asleep for days, weeks, even months at a time.
Food gets to be hard to come by for some animals—especially bears, and so, instead of migrating or expanding their diet, these animals took the lazy route and make the bold move to sleep through this season of scarcity. The benefits of sleep for us—like boosting our mental, physical, and emotional well-being—are nothing compared to what sleep can do for these animals who essentially freeze time for themselves.
We may not be able to hibernate, but we can certainly pretend! Enjoy getting the most out of your Zzzz’s today and all winter long. And, as always, thanks for zzzz…