As temperatures rise globally, so does the threat of insufficient sleep. A recent survey of U.S. adults from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) indicates that over two-thirds of respondents (69%) admit they have lost sleep due to worries about the environment. Significantly, one-half of those aged 18-24 claim to always, almost always or often lose sleep due to worries about the environment while only 10% of Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation reported similar concerns.
“Environmental changes touch every aspect of our lives, even sleep,” said Dr. Indira Gurubhagavatula, AASM spokesperson and associate professor of medicine and physician at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. “It’s important that people try to keep worries and stress out of the bedroom so they can continue getting the right amount of sleep for optimal health.”
Americans staying up past their bedtime worrying about the environment isn’t the only factor at play; the changing environment has been associated with shorter sleep duration. A recent study suggests that increases in nighttime temperature harm human sleep. The data indicate that on warm nights when the temperature exceeds 86 degrees Fahrenheit, sleep declines by 14 minutes. The researchers concluded that changes in temperature will disproportionately impact people living with inadequate access to electricity, medical care and other resources.
“Sleep loss due to changing temperatures will affect billons of people worldwide, so it is of utmost importance to educate people on how they can adjust their sleep environments to meet their needs,” said Gurubhagavatula.
Gurubhagavatula suggests the following tips for people who struggle to fall asleep on hot nights:
- Keep your room temperature cool. Air conditioning or a fan may be needed. Additionally, try to wear light clothing – in layers if needed.
- Avoid heavy exercise too close to bedtime. Exercise raises body temperature.
- Take a lukewarm shower. A tepid shower before bedtime can help dilate blood vessels to the skin; heat then is lost through the skin in the minutes after you exit the shower, allowing body temperature to drop. This cooling can help with sleep onset.
- Drink plenty of water during the day. Stay well-hydrated, so that your body can cool down through sweating if needed.
Keep these tips in mind or connect with a specialist at an AASM-accredited sleep center near you to discuss sleep concerns. To learn more about the importance of healthy sleep and to find more sleep tips, visit SleepEducation.org.
About the Survey
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine commissioned an online survey of 2,010 adults in the U.S. The overall margin of error fell within +/- 2 percentage points with a confidence interval of 95 percent. Fieldwork took place between Feb. 17-24, 2022. Atomik Research is an independent market research agency.
About the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Established in 1975, the AASM advances sleep care and enhances sleep health to improve lives. The AASM has a combined membership of 11,000 accredited sleep centers and individuals, including physicians, scientists and other health care professionals who care for patients with sleep disorders. As the leader in the sleep field, the AASM sets standards and promotes excellence in sleep medicine health care, education and research (aasm.org).