Health effects of climate change: warmer nights cause sleep disorders

Warmer nights: Less sleep due to climate change
Those who do not sleep sufficiently endanger their health. The room temperature in the bedroom should not be too high for a restful sleep. But climate change means that the nights are often uncomfortably warm. The problem will only get worse in the future. Sleep disorders due to global warming will increase, according to a new study.

Warmer nights due to climate change
Research has shown that global warming can have a direct impact on our health. For example, a new wave of hay fever is expected due to climate change. The spread of insects that can transmit dangerous diseases has also increased due to the higher temperatures. Researchers from the USA are now reporting on another health impairment that climate change entails: the warmer nights associated with this cause more sleep disorders.

Sleep disorders endanger health
Those who sleep poorly in the long term not only suffer from tiredness, but are at higher risk for diseases such as depression, anxiety disorders, diabetes and also cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks.

According to the Robert Koch Institute, around 25 percent of Germans suffer from sleep disorders, for another 11 percent sleep is often not restful.

In the future, the number of people affected could increase significantly. Because climate change is making the nights warmer and warmer, making many people sleep less well.

Relationship between poor sleep and high temperatures
According to a study published in the journal Science Advances, the warmer night temperatures caused by climate change could increasingly lead to sleep disorders.

In the study, led by Nick Obradovich from Harvard University, the researchers analyzed data from 765,000 US citizens who had participated in a large health study between 2002 and 2011.

This showed a clear connection between poor sleep and warm weather. Even at a temperature that was only one degree higher than normal, there were three nights of sleep disturbance per person per month.

Part of the research was done when Obradovich was a PhD student at the University of California at San Diego.

The number of sleepless nights could double
Scientists forecast that this number could double in the United States by 2050. Older and poorer people who live in city centers without air conditioning will especially suffer from the warmer nights.

However, the situation in other regions of the world is becoming more problematic. "The United States is a rich country with average, moderate temperatures," said Obradovich, according to a Washington Post report.

But in countries like Brazil or India, the effects are likely to be more dramatic. However, the US researchers had no data on this.

According to a report by the specialist magazine "EurekAlert!", Obradovich pointed out the associated health risks: "Too little sleep can make a person more susceptible to diseases and impair mental well-being and cognitive functions."

Tips for hot nights
Despite the poor prospects, there are also measures to help you find restful sleep. Some tips for tropical nights can help here.

For example, a hot water bottle can be easily converted into a cooling element in summer. To do this, fill them with water and place them in the refrigerator about three hours before bed.

It is best to wrap the cool bottle in a thin sheet and take it to bed. A short shower with lukewarm water before bed can be relaxing and stimulates sleep.

Light meals instead of heavy meals are also recommended. Further tips against the heat: Keep the temperature in the bedroom as low as possible by clever ventilation.

This means that the windows are only opened early in the morning and at night when it is not yet or is no longer hot. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: The Crucial Connection: Climate Change and Health. Kaiser Permanente (January 2022).