Climate change likely to cause people to lose sleep, new study finds

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New research has revealed that ambient temperatures, rising due to climate change, will negatively impact sleep globally.

The study, published in the journal, One Earth, was conducted by investigators at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Researchers sought to explore the relationship between rising global temperatures due to climate change and the prevalence of insufficient sleep.

The researchers linked billions of sleep measurements from sleep-tracking wristbands comprising more than 10 million sleep records from 2015 to 2017 across 68 countries to local daily meteorological data, according to the study. They found that controlling for individual, seasonal, and time-varying confounds, increased temperature shortens sleep through delayed onset, increasing the probability of insufficient sleep. In addition, the authors found that the temperature effect on sleep loss is substantially larger for residents from lower-income countries and older adults, with females being more affected than males.

The results also showed that on very warm nights, sleep declines by 14 minutes compared with nights with the lowest temperature-attributed sleep loss. In addition, nighttime minimum temperatures greater than 77 degrees Fahrenheit increased the probability of getting less than seven hours of sleep by 3.5 percent compared with the temperature baseline of 41 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The authors note that the optimum nighttime ambient temperature for sufficient sleep may be considered lower than this baseline.

By 2099, suboptimal temperatures may erode 50 to 58 hours of sleep per person per year, with climate change producing geographic inequalities that scale with future emissions, according to the study.

The authors conclude that human sleep is sensitive to nighttime ambient temperature, posing an additional climate-change-related threat to global public health and wellbeing.