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marinelife's avatar

Why don't human beings hibernate or at least go dormant in winter?

Asked by marinelife (62430points) November 23rd, 2010

Trees go dormant. Many animals hole up for the winter with lower metabolic needs.

Why don’t humans?

Do you think we should?

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20 Answers

janbb's avatar

I do go into a kind of psychological dormancy; more reluctant to go out at night, a greater desire for sleep. I think we do respond to the cold and the waning of the light but the needs of an industrial society for productivity year round obviate against a “real” hibernation. In agrarian societies, there is a greater disparity in activity between the long, growing days and the short, fallow ones.

tigress3681's avatar

I sleep more during the winter than during the rest of the year. If that counts as hibernation, then great. If you mean sleep for the winter, our bodies aren’t made to do that, think comatose.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I was guessing it has something to do with our big giant heads and the constant need to keep a lot of blood flow to the brain.

deni's avatar

I think after the Thanksgiving/Christmas weight gain we should all just crawl up cozily in our beds under a bunch of blankets and sleep until April. What a nice three month break that would be. Mmmmm speaking of which it is way too early to be on Fluther.

wilma's avatar

Like @janbb I also go into a slower mode. I Sleep a lot more, go outside much less, and probably eat more. I live in a Northern area and I believe that the cold and lower light are the big factors for me.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I don’t know if it could be compared to hibernating or going dormant but many humans migrate to a warmer climate in winter and this phenomenon brings swarms of what we like to call “Snowbirds” down to Arizona for the winter months.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

No way! I love winter and am out in all kinds of weather! It’s makes me happpppppppy!

AstroChuck's avatar

I hibernate nearly every time I hit the recliner.

meiosis's avatar

We are very resourceful at finding food – why would we need to place ourselves in a defenceless state through hibernating?

christos99's avatar

I think my boss has been hibernating since the first day of my employment

JilltheTooth's avatar

Remember, too, that as a species we did most of our evelving in an equatorial climate where there was no need to conserve personal resources in order to survive as food was never going through a “down time” because of cold weather. I obviously can’t (and won’t try to) speak to the Creationists here, nor do I have any intention of opening that can of worms.

faye's avatar

I go into slow mode for sure. Outings into the cold zone are planned carefully to lessen exposure of my skin to the harmful atmosphere. Groceries, booze, cigarettes are bought in bulk against blizzard days and frozen engines. Books and beds are visited frequently.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@JilltheTooth I hadn’t considered the Creationist angle. I wonder what they would say.

downtide's avatar

I don’t think the human body is capable of surviving that long without sustenance. Some people do “slow down” in the winter though, and Seasonal-affective Depression is sometimes linked with a sort of hibernation state.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’ll bet some early hominids tried it. But when they woke up, all their food and supplies were gone.
The hibernation gene got wiped out by the caffeine gene holders.

augustlan's avatar

@faye I love the sound of that.

I go into slow-mode, too. I get SAD every winter, but I think even if I didn’t have that, I’d still slow down. Why can’t we figure out a way to go from Spring straight to Autumn and back again, skipping the miserable highs and lows? Somebody get to work on that, would you?

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

marinelife's avatar

I have been doing some research on this issue today. It appears that in some circumstances human can go into a hibernation-like state.

mattbrowne's avatar

Because human babies, unlike hedgehog babies, need a very long time to become self reliant.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@JilltheTooth beat me to it—We “invented” fire, and learned how to make warm clothes and coats from animal skins, and that changed everything. It allowed us to move into different parts of the world where we couldn’t survive otherwise.
I’m guessing that in places like Florida and Hawaii, people don’t even really notice the change…(do they?) But in places where it’s cold during the winter, we do go into a less active stage, for the most part. Every spring, when everything starts waking up, I start waking up and I’m amazed, every time, at the feeling that I just came out of a cold, dark, confined world. It’s a stretching and awakening, every year.

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