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Climate Change Could Promote Sleep Deprivation Among Poor and Elderly

May 30, 2017 12:52 PM EDT
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A new study from the University of California-San Diego revealed that global warming brought about by climate change could negatively affect how humans sleep, promoting more sleepless nights in poor and the elderly.

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, showed that the current trend increasing temperature could cost people in the United States millions of additional night of insufficient sleep by 2050, if climate change is not properly addressed.

"What our study shows is not only that ambient temperature can play a role in disrupting sleep but also that climate change might make the situation worse by driving up rates of sleep loss," said lead author Nick Obradovich, who conducted much of the research as a doctoral student in political science at UC San Diego, in a press release.

For the study, the researchers first looked into the data of more than 765,000 U.S. residents between 2002 and 2011 who responded to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, a public health survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that asks respondents to recall their sleep patterns in the previous month. The researchers then linked these data to daily temperature data collected by the National Centers for Environmental Information. The effects of warmer temperature to sleep were then combined with climate model projections to estimate how much sleep is loss if the rising trend in global temperature continues.

The researchers found that a mere 1 degree Celsius increase in nighttime temperatures could translate to three nights of insufficient sleep per 100 individuals per month. A single month with an average of one degree Celsius higher than normal could cause up to nine million nights of insufficient sleep across the population of the United States today.

With the climate projections for 2050 and 2099 provided by NASA Earth Exchange, the researchers tried to determine what will happen to the effect of warmer temperature to sleep if climate change continues to persist in the future. The researchers found that warmer temperatures could cause six additional nights of insufficient sleep per 100 individuals by 2050 and approximately 14 extra nights per 100 by 2099.

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