For millions of people throughout the world who are enduring extreme, intolerable heat waves, it is a sobering truth. Global climate experts claim that July was the hottest month on record for the world and is likely to have been the hottest time in 120,000 years.
According to Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service of the European Union, “these are the hottest temperatures in human history,” she told CNN recently.
In the midlatitude areas, which include Western Europe and nations like China, Japan, and the United States, the frequency of days with “dangerous heat”—defined as 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius)—will more than quadruple by 2050. Those temperatures could prevail for the bulk of the year in tropical regions.
It’s not simply the oppressive heat; the nighttime temperatures aren’t decreasing as they should. In much of the US, nights are warming on average more quickly than days, according to the 2018 National Climate Assessment.
Warm nighttime temperatures have robbed people around the world of an average of 44 hours of sleep annually during just the first two decades of the 21st century, according to a 2022 study.
Chasing Sleep’s Benefits
Sleep is important because it allows the body and brain to perform housekeeping tasks like repairing and replacing old cells and creating new ones. Sadly, the researchers discovered that taking daytime naps and sleeping longer on colder nights did not appear to make up for the missed sleep.
Experts have long advised sleeping in a cold environment; the ideal temperature range is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 and 19.4 degrees Celsius).
Higher overnight temperatures have been linked to increased alertness and decreased deep wave and REM sleep, which are essential for the body’s ability to repair and rejuvenate itself at night.
A 2019 study found that being exposed to heat waves while pregnant may lead to unfavorable results, including premature delivery. When they sleep in warmer environments, older people may have higher heart rates and greater physiological stress.
Even mortality from mental and behavioral illnesses increased during heat waves, according to 2008 Australian research, especially for older people.