Sleep in the heat wave

Sleep at the ;&; heatwave test

Montreal by night

With global warming, the number of tropical nights, when the temperature does not drop below 20 degrees Celsius, is expected to increase substantially in Montreal.

They will go from 8, according to historical data, to 19 during the next thirty years, then to 28 during the next thirty years, according to the optimistic scenario. If greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow at the current rate, we could even reach 45 tropical nights in 2051-2080.

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For city dwellers, it will be quite a challenge to manage to sleep well in these conditions, underlines Kelton Minor, of the Center for Social Data Science at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Mr. Minor is the lead author of a study, published in May in the journal One Earth, which measured how changes in temperature affect human sleep. Data from 47,000 people in 68 countries was used.

We used measurements taken from sleep tracking wristbands with accelerometers, which measure movement and can detect sleep and activity states, and combined this data with weather and climate data. local weather stations and satellites, he explains.

Study finding: People slept less and the likelihood of getting a short night's sleep increased as the temperatures got warmer.

The study shows that extreme heat interferes with falling asleep at the start of the night.

< p class="e-p">No surprise for anyone who has ever tried to sleep on a hot summer night with a fan as the only source of cooling.

But when those bad nights' sleep accumulates, as it is likely to do in the next few decades for anyone without air conditioning, the results could be problematic.

According to projections by the Climate Atlas of Canada, the duration of heat waves, i.e. the number of consecutive days in which the temperature reaches or exceeds 30°C, will increase from 5 days at this time 8 days into the second half of the century, if global greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at the current rate.

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Already, at this time, it is estimated that each person loses about 40 hours of sleep annually due to excessive nighttime temperatures.

By 2099, according to global warming projections, this will be between 50 and 58 hours, depending on the level of adaptation and the actions to mitigate the effects of climate change that will be put in place.

This is ;a projection that will depend on our ability to adapt to rising temperatures, says Kelton Minor.

If we can develop new technologies that help cool nighttime temperatures and protect sleep, the impacts may be less. On the other hand, if the world's population continues to age, people may be more vulnerable to the effect of temperature. If so, we could see these impacts become even greater.

The study showed that people over the age of 60 experience the effects of heat more strongly than younger people. This is believed to be because their body temperature tends to drop earlier in the evening, notes Minor. When the outside temperature is higher, it hinders the process of falling asleep and the quality of sleep.

Heat has an undeniable effect on our sleep, says Dr. Roger Godbout, professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Montreal and director of the Sleep Laboratory and Clinic at the Rivière-des-Prairies Mental Health Hospital of the CIUSSS of the North-of-the-Island-of-Montreal. It influences as much on our falling asleep at the start of the night as on nocturnal awakenings.

Anything that disturbs our balance will disturb sleep, notes Dr. Godbout. When we sleep badly, the next day, we will be irritable, impulsive. It causes memory and concentration problems; It's been a bad day.

“Sleep is important for regulating our mood. It is essential for remembering what we have done during the day and for the secretion of certain hormones. »

— Roger Godbout, Director of the Sleep Laboratory and Clinic, at the Rivière-des-Prairies Mental Health Hospital of the CIUSSS du Nord-de-l'Île-de-Montréal

Sleeping badly several nights in a row, such as when there is a heat wave, is even more problematic. We create a debt of sleep that we will never fully recover.

For those who already suffer from a mental or physical health condition, bad nights are even more difficult.

Dr. Godbout isn't too concerned, however, about the one-time effect of lack of sleep for most people. Those who suffer from its long-term impact are people who sleep poorly for months and years.

However, one should not hope that one will eventually get used hot nights, he warns.

While animal experiments show that animals successfully adapt to colder temperatures within weeks, this is not the case for warmer temperatures.

What the study also seems to show. People living in hot climates experienced greater sleep erosion as temperature rose, suggesting limited adaptation at this stage, argues Kelton Minor. x27;intense physical exercise in the evening so as not to increase our body temperature;

  • take a cool shower, but it should only last a few minutes, otherwise we send the message to the body to keep the heat in the inside of the body to fight against the cold;
  • avoid taking stimulating drinks, coffee or alcohol, which change the body temperature; avoid, for the same reason, heavy and spicy meals late in the evening;
  • drink plenty of water during the day so as not to be dehydrated in the evening, but stop drinking it for two to three hours before going to bed so as not to be awakened during the night by the urge to urinate;
  • do not sleep with animals, as they give off heat.
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