Cryostasis, suspended animation, cryo-preservation or cryosleep (the marketing guy's prefer this last one as "Oh yeah, we gonna kill you in a manner we that will hopefully make it possible to revive you." is a pretty bad, yet accurate sales-pitch compared to "You'll sleep for 150 years and then you'll wake up at your destination.") has become a staple of science-fiction. While we aren't quite there yet in real life, we'll probably crack that nut as some animals, like wood frogs actually do it and some experiments with frozen rat livers were successful.

While sci-fi already has displayed people awaking from cryostasis as anything from panicking and confused (Star Trek for example) to groggy and hung-over (Revelation Space) all of these wake up scenes seem to be guesswork of the authors. Given current medical knowledge and experiences, how would it be for a person to be revived from cryostasis? Will it be slow or sudden? Were there any dream or visions like people who had near-death-experiences usually experience? How will their mental and physiological condition be as they exit the freezer-sarcophagus? Any data or science based hints will be appreciated.

Assume that revival works by slowly warming up the body, unfreezing it, and using nanotechnology to repair damage. Assume that this process will take several hours.


There are a few cases in history of people falling into severe hypothermia and then recovering. The scenario closest to what you want that I can remember is that of Anna Bågenholm.

Anna Elisabeth Johansson Bågenholm (born 1970) is a Swedish radiologist from Vänersborg, who survived after a skiing accident in 1999 left her trapped under a layer of ice for 80 minutes in freezing water. During this time she became a victim of extreme hypothermia and her body temperature decreased to 13.7 °C (56.7 °F), one of the lowest survived body temperatures ever recorded in a human with accidental hypothermia. Bågenholm was able to find an air pocket under the ice, but suffered circulatory arrest after 40 minutes in the water.

After rescue, Bågenholm was transported by helicopter to the Tromsø University Hospital, where a team of more than a hundred doctors and nurses worked in shifts for nine hours to save her life. Bågenholm woke up ten days after the accident, paralyzed from the neck down and subsequently spent two months recovering in an intensive care unit. Although she has made an almost full recovery from the incident, late in 2009 she was still suffering from minor symptoms in hands and feet related to nerve injury. Bågenholm's case has been discussed in the leading British medical journal The Lancet, and in medical textbooks.

It gets more interesting at the Ressuscitation and Recovery section.

Bågenholm arrived at the hospital at 21:10. Her body temperature at the time was 13.7 °C (56.7 °F) (...) The electrocardiogram connected to her showed no signs of life, but Gilbert knew patients should be "warmed up before you declare them dead".

Bågenholm was brought to the operating theatre, where a team of more than a hundred doctors and nurses worked in shifts for nine hours to save her life. At 21:40, she was connected to a cardiopulmonary bypass machine that warmed up her blood outside of her body before it was reinserted into her veins. Bågenholm's first heart beat was recorded at 22:15, and her body temperature had risen to 36.4 °C (97.5 °F) at 0:49. Bågenholm's lung function deteriorated at 02:20, and she spent the following 35 days connected to a ventilator.

Bågenholm soon began to show signs of vitality, and woke up paralyzed from the neck down on 30 May. She feared she would spend the rest of her life on her back, and was angry with her colleagues for saving her. Bågenholm soon recovered from the paralysis, however, and later apologized to her friends; "I was very irritated when I realized they had saved me. I feared a meaningless life, without any dignity. Now I am very happy to be alive and want to apologize." Bågenholm's kidneys and digestive system were not working properly, so she had to recover in an intensive care unit for two more months.

Seems like she never described what it was to wake up like that with more elaboration than what is in the wiki. From that I conclude that it's like the hangover you get from drinking bootleg vodka, only you take a hundred days to recover instead of just twelve hours. Also you need a [redacted] expensive plan for health insurance.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. I find the paralysis she experienced especially interesting. Do you have anything suggesting that it was unique to her case or is it plausable to assume that it could be a normal thing for people coming out of freezing? $\endgroup$ – TheDyingOfLight Sep 7 '19 at 3:04
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    $\begingroup$ @TheDyingOfLight I could find no data on that. But since you get frozen to the bone in the spine, it might a normal thing. $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Sep 7 '19 at 10:21

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