Example for Grade 5: Informational – Ready for a Nap - ID: 791
Imagine a valley forest filled with squirrels, woodchucks, raccoons, and bears in the spring and summer. The valley is green, bright, and full of life. But then, at winter and fall the valley is empty. There is no one there, except for an occasional raccoon or squirrel. Where are they? They’re in hibernation. Hibernation is a four month to five month deep sleep that starts when fall ends and ends when spring comes.
Bears and other animals find a small shelter for themselves and sleep in it. Before hibernation these animals stock up on food. Every day that comes by they eat and eat, and eat. To sleep for four to five months without food needs a lot of preparation. As they grow fatter they start looking for something else, their winter den. They search for a place that is strong and can hold for the winter. Near their time to hibernate they start slowing down, they no longer run down the hills and play. Then one day the animals go into their den, curl up in one corner and fall into a deep sleep. Scientist have taken blood samples from hibernating animals, they have found something that makes them sleepy. They do not yet know what it is but they will find out. Scientists did and experiment to see if it works on other animals. They took blood from hibernating ground squirrels and injected it into a different group of ground squirrels that do not hibernate. Not long after, the energetic squirrels curled up and started hibernating. Scientists call the substance inside the hibernating animals blood HIT.
Now you may think, “How is it possible to not eat and drink for such a long time?” Hibernating animals have normal white fat but, they also have this special type of brown fat. This fat acts as a restaurant, serving energy when it is needed. When the animals are in need of energy this fat starts making energy then pumps the energy in to the most important parts of the animal’s body, the brain, heart, and lungs. Like it says in the Do Not Disturb: The Mysteries Of Animal Hibernation, “A hibernating animal must warm up before it can wake up, and its brain has to warm up first in order to send messages to the rest of the body to get moving.” After that the brown fat starts making more and more energy till the mammal wakes up.
During hibernation the bears heart rate drops from 40 to 50 beats a minute to 10 or 12 its temperature would drop a few degrees and it would breath slowly. There are different levels of hibernation too. Like it says in Do Not Disturb: The Mysteries of Animal Hibernation, “Animals known are he “real” hibernators, such as woodchucks and ground squirrels, sleep so deeply that they are almost impossible to wake up…. During hibernation, the woodchucks heart slows from beating 80 times a minute to only 4 or 5. Its normal body temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit drops to 45 or 50 degrees. But even so, every few weeks the woodchuck gets up to nibble on food and use the small toilet room in its underground burrow.” Having such a low heart rate and temperature would be almost impossible for humans! There are also in between hibernators, animals such as raccoons or skunks, wake up quite often in between winter storms to search for food.
These findings can help scientists how to make sleep remedies and how to make long distance space travel easier by sleeping through it. Hibernation keeps bears and animals in one place so it is a good time for scientists to study and test animals in hibernation. Now imagine a valley forest in the beginning of spring, the birds are back and the sky is blue. You see squirrels and rabbits bouncing about. And you, now know where they were and what they were doing. As the sky becomes dark the animals all leave to sleep but this time you have to sleep too.