Tired man sitting on mattress

Wake up and smell the climate change! A new study shows that Americans sleep less on unusually warm nights, and we’re seeing more of them as the climate warms.

Nick Obradovich is with the science, technology, and public policy program at the Harvard Kennedy School. He began researching the topic after experiencing a few of his own rough nights.

Obradovich: “There was a heat wave when I was living in San Diego and finishing up my PhD and it was the hottest October that San Diego had ever, ever experienced. The nighttime temperatures were particularly warm, and so I had a lot of time lying in bed not being able to sleep very well.”

It inspired him to study the potential links between climate change, nighttime temperature and sleep. He and his team combed through a decade’s worth of sleep surveys and weather data from across the U.S. They found that abnormally high temperatures match up with reports of a bad night’s sleep. Elderly and low-income communities are the most affected.

Obradovich: “This is just one study among many, many studies that is starting to uncover the degree to which humans are affected by the climate and the degree to which we’re very likely to be affected by that climate changing in the future.”

How’s that for a wake-up call?

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

Daisy Simmons is a freelance writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience in research-driven storytelling. In addition to contributing to Yale Climate Connections since early 2016, she also...