Humans have evolved to spend roughly a third of our lives sleeping. How we sleep impacts productivity, alertness, mood, hunger, energy, and other basic functions that comprise a huge chunk of the human experience. But we are not sleeping well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 3 American adults don’t get enough sleep, and we’re sleeping less than we did about a decade ago. Similar trends are developing across the globe.
Previous studies have pinned some of the blame for our collective sleep problems on technology and noise and light pollution. But Kelton Minor, a doctoral student at the University of Copenhagen’s Center for Social Data Science, wondered whether rising nighttime temperatures due to climate change might be contributing to the growing sleep deficit. On Friday, Minor and some colleagues published the largest study ever conducted on the relationship between ambient temperature and sleep. Their findings, published in the science journal One Earth, don’t bode well for humans’ sleep outlook in a climate-changed world.