By Sean Zucker –
It may seem obvious to state the benefits of a good night’s sleep, but sufficient rest is even more important than many realize. Beyond boosting energy during the day, WebMD reports that quality sleep is crucial for brain function, heart health, the body’s ability to fight germs and disease, regulating blood sugar, weight control and mood management. In short, if a person doesn’t get enough sleep, the next day they won’t be feeling too hot. This is ironic given one recent study recently revealed that rising temperatures across the globe are significantly diminishing sound sleep worldwide.
In what is reputed to be the largest study of its kind, researchers at the University of Copenhagen examined how rising global temperatures are affecting humanity’s sleep quality. Originally published in One Earth, the data was collected by examining measurements from sleep-tracking wristbands worn nightly by nearly 50,000 people across 68 countries. The team controlled for individual and seasonal time variations to focus solely on weather conditions and their impact on sleep.
The Danish researchers concluded that those in hotter regions experienced considerably more sleep loss per degree of warming. Additionally, their findings suggest that elderly people, women and residents of lower-income countries fared worse than others. Ultimately, the team estimated that by the year 2099, warmer weather could cause people to lose 50 to 58 hours of sleep per person on average every year. On a daily basis, this breaks down to eight to 10 minutes per night.
“We spend nearly a third of our lives asleep, but still growing numbers in many countries do not sleep enough, even though sound and sufficient slumber is essential for human functioning,” Kelton Minor, the study’s lead author told the Alberta Prime Times.
Unfortunately, there appears to be little indication that improvements are at hand. In fact, the problems fostering sleep loss may only get worse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note Americans are already sleeping less than they did a decade ago. The CDC reports that one in three U.S. adults do not get enough sleep. Rising temperatures will only make the situation worse, which may just happen. NASA, for example, predicts that the Earth’s average surface temperature will rise between 2.5- and 10.4-degrees Fahrenheit over the next 100 years.
Temperatures are already on the rise and people aren’t handling the increased heat. “Unfortunately, we don’t find evidence that people are adapting well to warmer temperatures today,” Minor said.
He did provide one glimmer of hope for an increasingly sleep-deprived world. The university’s study showed cooler temperatures foster better sleep, which means air conditioning is something of a short-term solution. Unfortunately, “short-term” is the operative concept. Minor warns that widespread use of air conditioning will only make matters worse because these units accentuate global warming by increasing greenhouse-gas emissions. Not to mention, those in lower-income nations who are most affected likely can’t afford to make their rooms cooler.