Beauty Sleep

The fountain of youth? It’s been discovered!

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

Did you know that animal life expectancy is typically related to their SIZE? While a mouse usually only lives to age seven, an elephant can live up to seventy! However, marmots, which are groundhog-sized rodents, live longer than expected. What’s their secret?! 

Gabriella Pinho at UCLA and colleagues studied nearly eighty marmots over their lifetimes. They tracked the marmots’ epigenetic age. This is a measure of how old the BODY seems regardless of chronological age. The scientists did this by looking at marmot blood samples and DNA. 

They noticed something strange during the marmots’ hibernation period. Although time passed, their epigenetic aging halted! 

During hibernation, marmots eat less food and have lower body temperatures and metabolisms. Together, these could promote longevity. Beauty sleep is key after all!

The researchers think hibernation conditions could preserve organs for transplants or help in long-term space missions!

I’ll take that as a reason to stay in bed all weekend. It’s for my health…right?

Reference: Pinho, G., Martin, J., Farrell, C., Haghani, A., Zoller, J., Zhang, J., … & Horvath, S. (2021). Hibernation slows epigenetic aging in yellow-bellied marmots.

Photo credit: Daniel Blumstein/UCLA