Getting less than seven hours of sleep a night regularly, minimum benchmark for adults, has also been linked to heart problems, obesity and type 2 diabetesamong other conditions. “People try to make short sleeps during the week and then catch up on the weekends, but you never catch up on the health and cognitive benefits of sleeping properly during the week,” Miller says.
And with climate change, hot, sleepless nights are now being experienced by many people around the world. Compared to the beginning of the 21st century, night temperatures today are warmer, meaning that every person across the globe loses an average of 44 hours of sleep a year compared to what they got in 2010. This also means that, on average, adults experience 11 extra nights each year when they get less than the seven hours of sleep they need.
As air temperatures continue to rise, people may miss even more. ONE recent study linked the sleep tracking bracelets from more than 47,000 people in 68 countries to local meteorological data and predicted that individuals could lose 50 hours of sleep a year by the end of the century compared to 2010. Six more lost hours spread over the year between 6 p.m. now and then it might not work out much, but it would result in about 13 extra short nights, which is hardly welcome.
The researchers of the study also looked at whose sleep was disturbed the most. “We had a hypothesis and expected that people who already lived in warm climates would be better adapted to temperature rises at night,” says Kelton Minor, PhD candidate at the University of Copenhagen’s Center for Social Data Science and lead author of the study. . “What we found was the exact opposite.” An increase of 1 degree at night appears to affect residents of the world’s warmest climates more than twice as much as residents of the coldest areas, according to the analysis, which was based on data from 2015 to 2017.
They also found that sleep loss per. degree of warming appeared to be greater among women, the elderly, and people in low-income countries. Although the study design did not allow for causal conclusions as to why this is so, some assumptions can be made based on existing research: Women’s bodies usually cool down earlier in the evening to prepare for sleep than men’s, so that women will face warmer, more disturbing temperatures when their sleep wave sets in. Women also have higher levels of subcutaneous fat, which can slow down the cooling process at night, making it harder to control body temperature in heat waves. And as we get older, the body secretes less melatonin, which may explain why older people have an even harder time regulating their body temperature when it’s too hot.
Fans and Air conditioning can help remove heat from the body or cool a bedroom, but in lower-income countries, most do not have access to such devices. Besides that, sleep researcher Blume has no single recipe for getting enough sleep on hot nights. “Anything that helps lower body temperature would make sense from a sleep physiological perspective,” she says. Even something as simple as sleeping with a thin cover or completely without, or taking a cooling hand and foot bath before bedtime, is useful – as long as the water is not too cold, because otherwise the body begins to compensate and produce heat, she says .
It can also help remove electronic devices (which emit heat) from your room, keep curtains, blinds and windows closed during the day and stay hydrated. “You just have to try things. The most important thing is to relax,” says Blume, “but while you’re lying there swelling, damp with sweat, it’s easier said than done.