Global warming could mean less sleep for billions

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

FRAY 20 May 2022 (HealthDay News) – Anyone who has tried to sleep on a hot summer night knows how difficult it is to nod when the mercury rises.

So it’s no surprise that global warming is likely to cost people more and more attention as temperatures around the world rise.

By the end of this century, individuals could be subjected to at least two weeks of short sleep each year due to high temperatures driven by global warming, a new study projects. The findings were published May 20 in the journal One earth,

It is even worse for certain vulnerable groups, especially older people, said lead author Kelton Minor, who conducted the research as a doctoral student in planetary social and behavioral data science at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

“The estimated sleep loss per warming rate was twice as large among the elderly compared to younger than middle-aged adults, three times greater for residents living in lower-income countries versus high-income ones, and significantly greater for women than men,” “Minor said.

“Importantly, we found some evidence that the temperature sensitivity of sleep in late adulthood may increase between the ages of 60 and 70, with the extent of rough sleep loss per degree of warming further increasing for those older than 70,” he said. .

Minor said these projections are based on data from a first-of-its-kind “planet-scale natural experiment,” in which more than 47,600 people from 68 countries wore sleep-tracking wristbands from September 2015 to October 2017.

Minor and his colleagues then compared the 7.4 million sleep records they had collected with local weather and climate data, to see how heat affected each participant’s sleep.

“We found that nights that were randomly warmer than average eroded human sleep duration within individuals worldwide,” Minor said. “We estimated that people slept less and the chance of a short night’s sleep increased as the nights got warmer.”

Data show that on very hot nights – 86 degrees Fahrenheit or higher – sleep averaged just over 14 minutes, and the chance of getting less than seven hours of sight increased as temperatures increased.

Specifically, people tend to nod later and wake up sooner in hot weather, researchers said.

They also found that people already living in warmer climates experience greater sleep deprivation as temperatures rise, and that people do not adapt well to temperature-induced sleep loss in the short term, Minor said.

“Adults did not make up for lost sleep in the following nights, did not compensate for night sleep loss with daytime rest and did not appear to acclimatize to more normal warmer temperatures during the summer period,” he said.

By running these figures through two scenarios for climate change, researchers found that humans will lose sleep as the planet warms, whatever.

If humanity successfully stabilizes greenhouse gas emissions by 2099, hot temperatures will still cause an average of 50 hours of excessive sleep loss and 13 redundant nights of short sleep each year, Minor said.

On the other hand, humanity’s failure to limit global warming by 2099 would result in 58 hours of annual sleep loss, researchers projected.

“Evidence has suggested that short sleep is a risk factor for impaired cognitive function, degraded human performance, disturbed mood, increased anxiety, adverse neurological outcomes, compromised immune function, and cardiovascular mortality – all of which have been shown to increase extremity during speech. heat – our global study spotlights sleep as one of the plausible mechanisms by which climate change could affect human well-being and potentially widen global environmental inequality, “Minor said.

Dr. Indira Gurubhagavatula, an associate professor of medicine and physician in the Division of Sleep Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, praised the new study.

It is an “extraordinary enterprise,” with “many millions of data points from all over the world,” she said.

The findings are also consistent with previous studies that have shown that sleep suffers from heat, and that people’s sleep-wake rhythm is linked to nuclear body temperatures, Gurubhagavatula said.

Other factors can also cost people sleep as temperatures rise, they added.

“For example, workers with long working hours in hot climates can build up body temperature during the day and have no way to cool down quickly to prepare for sleep,” Gurubhagavatula said.

She also noted other unmeasured cultural, diet, behavioral or social factors that may affect sleep in hot weather, including:

  • Heat added by sharing a bed with others
  • The amount of sugars or carbohydrates in the diet
  • Late-night meals
  • smoking and cafe
  • Stress and anxiety.

“Too often, from childhood to old age, we take our sleep for granted and try to scrape by with less than we need,” Gurubhagavatula said. “We do not become ‘accustomed to’ chronic sleep loss. We accumulate sleep debt over time, which can affect our daily functioning in direct to chronic ways, and in subtle to clear ways.”

Simply put, people cannot cheat biology, she said.

“There are no shortcuts and no substitutes for sleep. Our bodies and brains need to sleep the same way they need oxygen, food and water,” Gurubhagavatula said. “Our biology requires that we find ways to make sleep a priority.”

Air conditioning can help people adapt to rising temperatures, “yet the prevalence of AC in lower-income countries lags behind that seen in other parts of the world,” Minor said.

Gurubhagavatula voted in favor.

“The authors conclude that access to infrastructure – such as a stable electricity grid, and availability of refrigeration equipment such as fans and air conditioning – may indeed be important. These resources tend to be less available in lower and middle income societies,” she said.

Gurubhagavatula gave some tips for better sleep on hot nights, including:

  • Keep your room temperature cool.
  • Wear light clothing.
  • Avoid heavy exercise too close to bedtime.
  • Do not eat or drink late – it may increase the time your body needs to cool down in preparation for sleep.
  • Stay well hydrated so your body can cool itself by sweating as needed.
  • Talk to your doctor about health conditions that can cause sweating or hot flashes while you sleep, such as obstructive sleep apnea, thyroid disease, menopause, and fluctuations in blood sugar.

More information

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has more about healthy sleeping habits.

SOURCES: Kelton Minor, PhD, former doctoral student, planetary social and behavioral data science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Indira Gurubhagavatula, MD, MPH, associate professor, medicine and sleep medicine doctor, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; One earthMay 20, 2022

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