To Sleep Like a Dragon
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Source: Kai Schreiber/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Nature

To Sleep Like a Dragon

The Secrets of Hibernation
Wojciech Mikołuszko
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For months, they don’t move, don’t eat, don’t excrete, and sometimes even freeze, and yet, they wake up in spring in good condition. How do animals manage to survive hibernation? Some claim that we also possess this extraordinary skill.

According to an article published in 2015 by one of the two most significant scientific journals in the world, Nature, “The Great Sleep” started around the beginning of the fifteenth century. During that period, temperatures in the northern hemisphere fell. Then began a period of frosty winters and cool summer months, called the Ice Age. At the same time the number of knights was declining rapidly. Dragons lost food and warmth. Therefore, as the team of scientists led by Dr. Andrew J. Hamilton from Melbourne University in Australia claimed, they fell into a deep sleep and disappeared from the sight of humans. Nowadays, however, when Earth temperatures are growing fast and the fashion for knightly reenactments is trending, the authors of the paper, titled “Here be dragons,” warn the aforementioned mythical animals may well wake up and attack humans. “Further research into fireproof protective clothing is recommended,” they add at the end. And although there’s a note underneath the text that it was published on April Fool’s Day, so “part of its content may deserve some degree of skepticism,” it still gives a good introduction to the mystery of hibernation.

Waking Up to Sleep

The aforementioned authors

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At the end of December, as every year, the Dream Time begins, as millions of Poles slip into their three-month lethargy. In the days of Bolesław the Sleepy, they would hole up in caves, dugouts, huts and towers. Today they sleep in luxury bunkers, villas and hotels. Dreamboat is lucky to have a computerized studio flat with a winter hibernation function. The software guarantees that while she sleeps, she’ll learn foreign languages and subconsciously exercise. She can afford it, because she works as a commercial rep for a company that imports pillows from Kim Il Sung’s company (sold under the punny name Kip Il Sung).

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