"Human hibernation" is the theory that as mammals, we have the same biological ability to hibernate as bears and rodents. The thinking goes, by accessing the state of human hibernation, we could help stave off degenerative diseases, avoid pandemics, and even travel long distances in space.
It's not just a Sci-Fi conceit. Biologist Dr. Sandy Martin at the University of Colorado recently said "the distribution of hibernating species on the tree of mammals makes the likely conclusion that the common ancestor of all mammals was a hibernator... It’s possible we all have the genetic hardware” to engage in human hibernation.
And then Twitter went crazy, for one simple reason: We're all exhausted.
According to the CDC, 1 in 3 Americans doesn't get enough sleep. The reasons are myriad—light pollution, anxiety, lack of respectful work hours, lack of affordable childcare, midnight drops on Netflix—but the idea that we could simply "turn off" our own bodies and wake up when the world is a little calmer? It's pretty temping.
The thing is, human hibernation has never been proven, and much like Bigfoot and the return of Samantha Jones to Sex and the City, the concept is totally possible... but we're still lacking solid evidence it did, or will, exist in any meaningful way. (Which is a bummer, because Samantha would totally use a refillable coffee cup.)
Until then, here are a few natural sleep aids to help guide your body and mind into a truly restful state. (Without needing to bury nuts, or giant jars of Justin's Almond Butter, for the winter.)
BREATHWORK FOR BETTER SLEEP
Breathwork is a set of simple, intentional breathing exercises designed to reboot and sync up your body and mind. To help lull yourself into a restful state, try Dr. Andrew Weil's "The Relaxing Breath."
BREATHE IN from your nose for 4 seconds.
HOLD YOUR BREATH for 8 seconds.
BREATHE OUT from your mouth for 7 seconds.
REPEAT 4 - 8 times
For more ways to use breathwork in your everyday life, click here.
PINK NOISE FOR A RELAXED MIND
You already know about "white noise." Pink noise is its natural equivalent—a blend of mellow nature sounds like babbling brooks and thrumming forests that have been proven to help transition our bodies to deep sleep.
For more ways to harness nature for a better sleep-wake cycle, click here.
SUN EXPOSURE FOR A MORE REGULATED SYSTEM
"Wait, I need the sun to help me sleep?" Exactly! Allowing our bodies to experience bright sunlight in the morning helps sync up our brains to sleep better at night. If you're able, try to walk or sit outdoors before noon, and keep your sunglasses off to fully experience the natural effects of solar renewal even in the Fall and Winter.
For more ways to adjust your body to fall, click here.
MOON AND STARS EXPOSURE, TOO
Experiencing the phenomena of "dark nature"—including meteor showers, full moons, bat flights, fireflies, and more—can help inspire feelings of wellbeing and reduce your exposure to electronic blue light, which has been proven to interfere with daily sleep goals.
For more ways to engage in dark nature, click here.
NATURE THERAPY FOR REDUCED ANXIETY
Sometimes reducing tension is the best way to relax into sleep. Spending 17 minutes a day in nature can help boost your mood, relieve stress, and help with sleep.