As weather patterns change and temperatures continue to rise, climate change remains at the forefront of research, political debates, and everyday discussions. The term ‘climate change’ evokes a variety of images and concerns in many of us, most of which have to do with a livable planet. But climate change not only impacts the earth it also directly impacts our own health.
As seasonal temperatures fluctuate due to climate change we are seeing an increase in asthma and allergies. There is also new evidence showing that climate change is impacting our mental health and emotional well-being, linking it to anxiety, and heightened aggression and violence
Lack of sleep has also recently entered the climate change discussion. (Tweet this) A new paper, Nighttime temperature and human sleep loss in a changing climate, predicts that as temperatures creep up the number of sleepless nights will also increase.
How climate change is impacting our sleep
Getting enough sleep is important for maintaining optimal health. In study after study, the risks of insufficient sleep are well-documented and considered a public health issue. Lack of sleep can: “increase susceptibility to disease and chronic illness and harm psychological and cognitive functioning”.
Over the last century, nighttime global temperatures have been increasing more rapidly than daytime temperatures. It’s a known fact that human sleep patterns are highly regulated by temperature. When it’s too hot or too cold at night it’s difficult to get an adequate night’s sleep. With global emissions continuing at the current pace nighttime temperatures will continue to rise and our ability to sleep will likely be disrupted. It’s anticipated that by 2050, for every 100 Americans, an extra six nights of sleeplessness can be expected every month.
Sleepless nights due to a changing climate do not impact everyone equally. Those without the financial resources to afford air conditioning are more likely to experience sleepless nights than those with air conditioning. Generally speaking the elderly and low-income populations are most affected by the rising temperatures and extreme heat.
What you can do to about climate change
The list of ways we can help stop climate change is long, including:
- Support leaders who pledge to repair our climate including those in favor of renewable energy
- Think about ways you can conserve and reduce
- Shop and eat locally when possible
- Drive a fuel-efficient car
- Make the switch to LED bulbs