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July 12, 2017
When talking about the effects of climate change and human health, it’s easy to overlook rising sea levels or increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But what about taking away people’s sleep? This is what the latest research about climate change has revealed. As temperatures get warmer, people are unable to get a good night’s sleep. Multiplied across the country, this lack of sleep will have major effects on our society as a whole. So what can we do about this issue? Here’s an overview along with advice on improving sleep in the wake of climate change.
The most notable result of climate change is warmer temperatures. Considering you want to sleep in a room with a temperature ranging from 60 to 67 degrees F, higher temps means trouble for sleepers. According to a recent study published in Science Advances, hotter summers equates to sleep loss for low-income households, as well as the elderly. Why these demographics? Ramping up the air conditioner costs money, and these groups may not have the resources to pay the extra expense. Furthermore, the hotter nights means people aren’t getting enough sleep, which leads to exhaustion and fatigue.
The researchers published in Science Advances analyzed the sleep patterns of 765,000 individuals in the US to find out if there was a relationship between trouble sleeping and temperatures. According to their research, on nights with unusually warm temperatures, this caused an average of three sleepless nights for every 100 people within a month’s time. By 2099, thanks to climate change, three nights will easily ramp up to 16 or 18 sleepless nights a month. For households unable to afford the increased cooling costs, or those living in urban centers that are hotbeds, this will lead to a whole slew of health and social issues. From being unable to focus at work due to lack of sleep, to health issues including high blood pressure, a lack of sleep will cost our society.
Ways to Combat the Sleep Loss
For starters, consider where you are living. Households in the city are going to have more trouble keeping cool compared to rural dwellers. This is due to the urban heat island effect, which according to the EPA is found in cities with more than 1 million people. Heat islands are caused by an increase in the summertime energy demand, costs of air conditioning, greenhouse gas emissions, and air pollution. In a heat island, the temperature can be up to 22 degrees hotter in the evenings compared to surrounding towns.
If you are living in an urban area that is a heat island, plan accordingly by budgeting for air conditioning expenses in the summer. Take eco-friendly moves to improve your living arrangement. Forbes offers the following suggestions:
Understanding the climate change effects on humans is the first step to combating this problem. Start making small changes today and get into a healthy sleep habit in warmer temps without paying an exorbitant amount to cool your bedroom.