Anyone who has ever slept through the night knows how essential sleep is for health. A group of researchers is therefore concerned about our average sleep duration, which decreases with each passing year.
Every year, the average person on Earth sleeps about 44 hours less than the year before, scientists conclude in their study. They have also discovered the main explanation for this loss of sleep. Disturbing, the researchers call the results.
Researcher: ‘More and more people are sleeping too little’
The researchers used data from 47,000 people from 68 countries. The participants wore wristbands to track their sleep. In total, about 7 million nights were analyzed in this way. The sleep study was published late last week in the academic journal One Earth†
And guess what? “A growing number of people in many countries around the world are not getting enough sleep,” Kelon Minor of the University of Copenhagen told The Guardian† He is the lead author of the study. Yesterday wrote Subway about the effects of sleep deprivation. That can be disastrous for your sex life, for example.
This is why the world sleeps worse
Global warming is causing people’s sleep to be disrupted, the researchers said. Rising temperatures as a result of the climate crisis are causing people around the world to sleep worse, the study finds.
The researchers found that higher temperatures reduce the amount of sleep because heat makes it more difficult to fall asleep. “People’s bodies have to cool down every night when they fall asleep, but this is more difficult when it’s warmer,” the study says. It is so far the first study to prove that global warming is affecting human sleep.
And there’s more to it…
And anyone who thinks this disturbing message will end there is wrong. According to the researchers, there is more to it. For example, the data showed that people cannot adapt to warmer nights on their own. Furthermore, people do not catch up on the missed sleep at later times.
In addition, the impact of warmer nights was observed in all countries studied, including countries with an already warmer climate. “We expected that individuals would be better adapted there,” Minor said. But the opposite is true. In fact, the researchers found evidence that they suffered more from so-called ‘sleep erosion’ per degree increase in temperature.
The study was unable to assess sleep quality, such as the different sleep phases. There was no change in the number of times people woke up during the night.
The effects on our sleep are not the same for everyone
The effects of heat on sleep are not the same for all groups of people. The data shows that women, among others, are more affected. The thing is, people’s bodies cool down every night when they sleep. But that’s harder when it’s warmer. The cooling process occurs earlier in women than in men, so that a disruption in that process – i.e. at higher temperatures – has more impact.
In addition, women, on average, have higher levels of subcutaneous fat, which causes them to retain more heat. And that complicates the cooling process. Older people are also more bothered by a high temperature when they want to sleep. They are known to sleep less at night and have poorer body temperature regulation. That may explain their sensitivity, the researchers write.
People in less prosperous countries experience the most inconvenience
The loss of sleep per degree of warming is about a quarter higher for women than for men and twice as high for people over 65. But people in less prosperous countries experience the most inconvenience: their sleep loss per degree is three times higher. People in poorer countries lose more sleep because they have less access to cooling features like shutters, fans and air conditioning, the researchers reason.
Lost sleep will continue to increase as the planet continues to warm, they expect. “If you look at the heat wave that is now unfolding in India and Pakistan, we are talking about billions of people being exposed to conditions that are expected to lead to significant sleep loss. ”
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