Written by: Sana Afzal.
One day while I was reading Holy Quran I came to know about a miracle of Allah that blew my mind as I read about human hibernation mentioned in Surah Kahaf. I knew that many animals hibernate in earth but studying that human hibernation actually happened on Earth several hundred years ago surprised me a lot Subhan Allah.
Let me tell you this story …. In Surah Kahaf(18TH chapter of Holy Quran) the story of some young men of cave is mentioned who slept for 309 years and were alive when they woke up, it was one of the miracles of Allah Almighty. These young when have faith in Allah but their society used to worship idols so they moved to a cave where they could worship Allah and seek Allah’s mercy and protection from evils of society. They were in fear facing food shortage & no exposure to sunlight. Allah put these people to sleep for 309 years it was a kind of human hibernation. During sleep one’s sense of hearing do not stop but in people of cave sense of hearing stopped. During sleep Allah continuously turned their position from right to left as complete immobility can cause decubitus ulcers. Their eyes were blinking though they were in sleep because if eye ball is not moved for long time then optic nerve will shrink and it will die and a person can’t see anymore. As no sunlight was reaching inside the cave their body temperature decreases which was sufficient for conserving energy as happens in hibernation. Allah kept these people away from sunlight because continues exposure to sunlight causes photo aging so in this way their skin was saved from sunlight damage.
What hibernation actually is? During hibernation the animals undergo decrease in body metabolism and become inactive.Body condition during hibernation are slow breathing, slow heart rate, low metabolism, low body temperature. Usually in hibernating animals the metabolic activity is suppressed while body temperature is low. When no food during is available hibernation help in energy conservation. Before hibernation,animals eat a lot of food and store food deposits in their adipose tissues. Obligate hibernators undergo hibernation weekly or monthly while facultative hibernators undergo hibernation during cold or food shortage.Certain genes are switched on and off during the process of hibernation and these genes are present in all mammals including humans.
There are some molecules that are involved in hibernation for example ghrelin, hydrogen sulfide gas and adenosine monophosphate.During hunger ghrelin send signals to hypothalamus so we eat a lot until we feel full. Researchers hypothesized that low level of ghrelin causes hibernation in animals. As low level of ghrelin causes low hunger, torpor(a state of low body temperature, reduced metabolism, slow heart beat and slow breathing. torpor conserve energy in animals during hibernation), low body temperature and slow metabolism. Animals that undergo hibernation also have large amount of Hydrogen sulfide gas in them, this gas prevents organ damage in hibernating animals as rapid temperature change might damage the organs of animals. In some cases, it is seen that adenosine monophosphate (AMP) might induce hibernation in animals. When rats were injected with AMP in a cold cage their body temperature decreases and metabolism slows down. Humans can’t hibernate because the temperature change during hibernation can cause a lot of organ damage and we can withstand such severe changes. How animals undergo hibernation is still not completely known and many researchers are searching about it.
Scientists are working to make human hibernation possible so that they might send hibernating people to space in such a way that their bodies do not face any damage and they have safe deep sleep and longer journeys in space.Lets see what happens ….