Bearly Awake

Sleep long, stay STRONG?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Grizzly bears — “Sleeping Beauties” of the animal world!  They hibernate all winter with NO FOOD.  But come springtime, bears emerge from their dens, strong as ever. For we humans, however, even short bed rest leads to decayed muscles. What’s the grizzly’s “beauty” secret? 

Enter Michael Gotthardt from the Max-Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine. He and his team compared the muscles of hibernating bears to active bears. They looked INSIDE the muscles to see what compounds were different. 

What did they learn?

Muscles from hibernating bears contain LOTS of amino acids. These are made by proteins ONLY during slumber. Researchers discovered that the amino acids keep sleeping bears fit.

Gotthardt hopes amino acid treatment can help human patients on bedrest — or even astronauts on long space trips! Next, the researchers will explore ways to help resting muscles make their OWN amino acids.

So – maybe we could NAP our way to stronger muscles? BEAR-y interesting!