If you can sleep at all, do you wake up drenched in sweat? For the millions of people suffering from extreme, intolerable heat waves around the world, that is the bleak truth.
Temperatures of 110 degrees Fahrenheit or more are breaking records in California and straining the state’s energy grid. Recurring heat waves in the UK and Europe bake locals and visitors, start wildfires, and exacerbate drought conditions at the same time that Europe is experiencing energy shortages as a result of Russian limitations on natural gas imports into the continent.
People who are not used to intense weather and are unaware of how to deal are left in the region’s many homes and hotels because of the lack of air conditioning. In the past, central air conditioning wasn’t necessary in most of the UK and the rest of Europe because high temperatures weren’t the norm.
According to a recent estimate, which predicted that extreme temperatures in the area will become the norm by 2035, that may be irreversibly altering.
Not only is the sun too hot, but the nighttime temperatures aren’t decreasing as they should. According to a study published in February, the kind of chilly, moist nights necessary to help put out wildfires are disappearing: Between 1979 and 2003, there was an increase of “flammable” evenings of 36% on average every year.
The most severe impact is on sleep
A paper that discusses the effects of sleeping in warmer temperatures on health and offers coping strategies was published on Thursday in the Journal of Sleep Research and states that “sleep is a critical function necessary for adaptive physical and mental wellbeing.”
Experts have long advised sleeping in a cold room; the ideal temperature range is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius). What occurs if you are unable to do it during a heat wave?
Higher overnight temperatures have been linked to increased wakefulness and decreased deep wave and REM sleep, which are essential for the body’s ability to repair and rejuvenate itself at night.
According to a 2019 study, exposure to heat waves while pregnant may have negative effects including preterm birth. When sleeping in warmer climates, older adults may experience greater heart rates and more physiological stress. Among fact, a 2008 Australian study indicated that during heat waves, mortality from mental and behavioral disorders increased, particularly in older persons.
What to do to sleep in the heat
According to a group of specialists from the European Insomnia Network who wrote the review, we might be able to lessen the detrimental effect on our health if we learn how to better manage sleep issues during heat waves.
Here are some of the most important pointers from the review, as well as advice from American sleep specialists who weren’t involved with the publication.
Remain hydrated. You can assist your body better regulate your temperature at night by drinking enough of water during the day.
To avoid getting up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, however, avoid drinking for an hour or two before bed, advised sleep expert Dr. Raj Dasgupta, an associate professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Try sucking on ice cubes instead before bed, instead.
Dr. Phyllis Zee, chief of sleep medicine and professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said that eating lighter meals throughout the day may also be beneficial.
2) Wear comfortable, loose-fitting cotton clothing; stay away from synthetics, which can trap heat adjacent to the skin.
3) If you’re fortunate enough to have a cooler part of the day, ventilate the bedroom by opening windows and doors, turning on fans, then closing it when the temperature rises.
4) The assessment advised closing blinds, drawing window shades, and taking other measures “to make the house and bedroom as cold and dark as possible both throughout the day and night” if there are no respite from the heat.
5) Steer clear of alcohol in the evening; it causes dehydration and increases the risk of overnight sweats.
6) Make time for relaxing activities like “reading a book, listening to a story, or listening to music” an hour or more before bedtime for both you and your child.
7) To help minimize heat stress and prepare for sleep, take a lukewarm or cool (but not frigid) shower or foot bath before you hit the hay. What causes that to occur?
As your body adjusts to the cooler atmosphere after taking a shower or bath, your body temperature will drop, according to Dasputa. Because our body temperature has a natural circadian rhythm, the body is predisposed to cool down when you lie down and warm up when you get up. “This drop in temperature prepares your body for sleep.”
8) If at all possible, try to keep your bedroom’s temperature below 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius). Use electric floor or bedside fans, which use “up to 50 times less electricity” than air conditioning, to achieve this, the review advised.
Additionally, there are reasonably priced ice cooling fans that can be positioned close to the bed “”If you can’t keep the bedroom cool, sleeping temporarily on lower floors like the basement (if there is one) will be cooler,” Zee advised in an email.
Despite this, the health effects on persons accustomed to mild climates have not been thoroughly studied, according to psychiatrist Dr. Bhanu Prakash Kolla, a sleep medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Kolla added that studying those who have acclimated to living in hot climates might also be beneficial: “There is no proof that they sleep poorly or experience higher rates of insomnia or other sleep disruptions.
There is no proof that they experience higher rates of insomnia or other sleep disruptions, or that they actually sleep poorly, therefore it is quite likely that we may learn a lot from the adaptations these societies have made over the millennia to survive in considerably hotter conditions.