Climate change causes more frequent heat waves. In the future, these heatwaves will be more frequent and of longer duration. Heatwaves are known to affect particularly nighttime temperatures, causing disturbed sleep.
Recently, investigators from the European Insomnia Network identified how outdoor nighttime temperature changes affect body temperature and sleep quality.
The study indicates that environmental temperatures outside thermal comfort can strongly affect human sleep by disturbing the body’s ability to thermoregulate.
The authors point out that some people, including older people, kids, pregnant women, and those with psychiatric disorders, may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of heat waves on sleep.
They also provide several coping mechanisms that have been modified from elements of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.
Corresponding author Ellemarije Altena, Associate Professor at the University of Bordeaux in France, said, “It is important to keep the bedroom below 25 degrees Celsius (77°F ): 19 degrees Celsius (66°F ) is the ideal. Sleep is known to become more shallow and less recuperating if the room temperature is too warm.”
“Use a fan instead of air conditioning, if possible. A lukewarm shower or foot bath can help cool down and regulate body temperature during sleep. Plan physical activities only in the morning, when it is cooler, and drink a lot of water during the day to help the body cool down during the night. Alcohol dehydrates and disrupts sleep, so limit those cold summer beers during heat waves. Keep a regular sleep schedule as much as possible, particularly for children.”
- Ellemarije Altena, Chiara Baglioni. Practical recommendations from the European Insomnia Network are how to deal with sleep problems during heatwaves. Journal of Sleep Research. DOI: 10.1111/jsr.13704