The consequences of climate change are far-reaching. As global warming causes ice caps to melt and sea levels to rise, our food supplies to be interfered with and a change in our weather patterns, an unexpected side effect is impacting us directly: climate change could be impacting how well we sleep.
A new study published in Science Advances suggests that whenever temperature rise to unusually high temperatures, we find it harder to sleep, or have a lower quality sleep than usual.
Using data from 765,000 survey respondents along with nighttime temperature data, the study's researchers discovered that lower-income people (who can't keep their air conditioning on all night), and elderly respondents (who find it harder to regulate body temperature) were affected most by an increase in temperature, and noticed that their sleep was insufficient during heat waves.
They also found that the effects of an increase in temperature on sleep was, of course, most at play during summer aka the sticky season.
You may have noticed it yourself during summer months – your window's open on those hot nights and yet there's no breeze so you wake up intermittently during the night. This is because human sleep is highly regulated by temperature, the study explained.
The cohesive study is the "largest ever investigation of the relationship between sleep and ambient temperature" and, according to researchers, it provides the first ever evidence that climate change disrupts human sleep.
The study also outlines that if climate trends continue, we can expect to have longer and more frequent heat waves that affect our sleep.
Nick Obradovich, research scientist at the MIT media lab who led the work, explained:
"There are going to be lots and lots of impacts of climate change and this is just another factor in a mosaic of negative factors."
As you may know, if you've ever found it difficult to get to sleep while battling a hot flush, a fever or a post-workout sweat, our bodies actually need to cool down before going to sleep.
Thus, if we prevented global warming getting any further – or at least stunted it – we could save our sleep, or at least lower the chances of having even sweatier nights spent trying to get back to sleep caused by climate change.
And we all want to sleep well – right?