Monday was national napping day, a day intended to celebrate the health benefits and pleasures of catching a few daytime Zs. There have been lots of studies showing the benefits of napping—NASA found that a 40-minute nap improved astronauts’ performance by 35%—but no one knows as much about napping as nature’s sleep expert: the bear.
For bears, the entire winter season is like an extended, occasionally interrupted nap. During their winter “denning”, bears do not enter a complete hibernation like, say, rodents do, but they do enter a long sleep during which all their metabolic processes slow down. During their winter sleep, their heart rate slows, their breathing becomes infrequent, and their metabolism decreases, allowing them to live off stored fat and protein in their bodies. They get up occasionally to readjust their position—or if they’re disturbed—but otherwise, they’re pretty much out for the season.
In the spring, after they’ve woken from their long winter slumber, they are awake most of the day, searching for food to replenish what they lost during the winter. But come summer, napping again becomes a prominent part of their lives—as these photos can attest. Bears can sleep pretty much anywhere—on rocks, in trees, or just sprawled out on the ground. And it looks fantastic.
For bears, napping day is more than once a year. Instead, it is one of life’s essential pleasures, an opportunity you should seize when you can. When you see these photos, you may want to follow their example.
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