Why Climate Change Is Keeping You Up At Night. Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I will be sharing an opinion piece from SleepStation. Sleepstation is a globally recognised and clinically validated program for improving sleep. It combines Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia with personalised support to help you overcome insomnia without medication. Lack of sleep can significantly impact your health, affecting your memory, immunity, blood pressure, weight, and mental well-being. In light of climate change challenges, Sleepstation also guides improving your sleep during heat waves and emphasises the importance of healthy sleep practices.
Why Climate Change Is Keeping You Up At Night
You are not alone if you struggle to get a good night’s sleep this summer. This June was the hottest on record not just for the UK but for the world, and such increasingly warm weather leaves many of us struggling to sleep, according to data from sleep programme experts, Sleepstation.
Fuelled by climate change and further exacerbated by this year’s El Nino pattern of warming weather, nighttime temperatures in the UK have soared, disrupting our sleep and leaving us pining for cooler weather.
Sleep is critical to our overall health and well-being. Yet, increases in temperatures worldwide have previously been shown to have reduced the average person’s sleep by 44 hours each year, and this is only set to worsen, with predicted losses of up to 58 hours of sleep per person, per year, by the end of the century, as global temperatures are set to increase by another 2 – 4°C. Data shows that people sleep most when external temperatures are below ten °C, after which our amount of sleep decreases as the outdoor temperature increases, with an average loss of 15 minutes per night at 30°C.
Increasing temperatures challenge one of the most important factors influencing our ability to sleep – the temperature of our bedrooms. Our body’s core temperature is closely linked to our natural sleep-wake rhythm. As our body readies for sleep, increased blood flow to our skin and extremities enables our body to cool, which drops our core body temperature to induce sleep. Still, warmer temperatures disrupt this mechanism, leading to later bedtimes and earlier wake-ups.
Climate change and its associated temperature increases pose a genuine barrier to our ability to get a good night’s rest and its subsequent benefits for our health. Aside from lack of sleep leaving us groggy or grumpy, poor slumber has been associated with negative impacts on memory and immunity, higher blood pressure, weight gain, and an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Lack of sleep is also detrimental to our emotional well-being. We see a symbiotic relationship between sleep and mental health: depression, anxiety, and stress can all negatively impact sleep, but experiencing even one sleepless night has been shown to trigger an up to 30% rise in anxiety levels. Sleep and mental well-being go hand in hand; taking good care of yourself can positively improve the other.
Climate change will likely continue to disrupt sleep for many of us in the years ahead. If you are struggling to sleep in this summer’s heatwave, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of some solid shuteye.
Take a Warm Bath
This may seem counterproductive, but warming the peripheral skin causes blood vessels to dilate so more heat escapes through their walls, and we lose body heat faster.
Spending as little as ten minutes in a warm bath an hour or two before you go to sleep has been shown to reduce how long it takes to fall asleep while increasing your total time and how much deep sleep you get.
Regular exercise promotes better sleep and helps us to feel less sleepy during the day. The more vigorously we exercise, the more influential the sleep benefits, but it’s essential to time your exercise carefully. Exercise elevates body temperature and spikes cortisol, meaning finishing strenuous workouts at least three hours before bedtime is essential. In the summer months, take advantage of cooler early morning periods or air-conditioned gyms for higher-energy exercise, and incorporate more relaxing, low-impact activity, such as yoga, in the evening to promote good sleep.
Choose Bedding Wisely
Natural fibres such as linen or cotton offer good breathability and can help to wick away moisture, helping to keep your body cool. Ideal choices for summer bedding include percale, lightweight cotton, and jersey, which enables reasonable temperature control. Layering your bedding lets you shed layers overnight if you get too hot.
Enrol in a Sleep Improvement Programme
If you are still struggling to achieve your forty winks in the summer heat despite your best efforts, managing your sleep with behavioural therapy is a natural and effective remedy to combat insomnia. Working remotely with individuals to identify the elements preventing them from getting a good night’s rest, the digital sleep clinic Sleepstation delivers cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBTi) to enable sufferers to get a good night’s sleep during periods of increased heat and beyond.
In the face of a rapidly changing world, it is essential to recognise that taking care of our sleep is a decisive step towards safeguarding our physical and mental health. By adopting healthy sleep practices, we can better equip ourselves to navigate the challenges of an increasingly warmer world and safeguard our precious sleep for years to come.
I hope you enjoyed that.
Sleepstation is a clinically validated, globally recognised sleep improvement programme.
Combining Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia with dedicated support, Sleepstation treats insomnia without medication.
Recommended as the first-line treatment for chronic insomnia in the NICE guidelines and trusted and approved by the NHS since 2012, Sleepstation’s programme is designed by sleep experts and backed by science, using psychological techniques to address and resolve sleep issues and improve mental and physical wellbeing.
Working closely with individuals, Sleepstation’s coaches identify the underlying causes of their sleep problems to provide individuals with practical, realistic, personalised plans and support that enable them to improve their sleep.
Sleep station resolves insomnia symptoms and improves the quality of life for more than 80% of service users who engage with the programme.
Tailored to each individual, Sleepstation’s sleep programme comprises a number of sessions across six to eight weeks. It is available privately for £160 or via referral from the NHS.