The Tea on Sustainable Living

#17 | Saving the planet one sleep at a time

November 08, 2022 Brandee and Hannah
The Tea on Sustainable Living
#17 | Saving the planet one sleep at a time
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Show Notes Transcript

When was the last time you had an amazing night's sleep? You probably woke up the next day feeling much more energized and ready to face the day. Yet with rising temperatures making sleep harder to come by, sleep is fast becoming a precious resource.

In today’s episode, we discuss the link between a good night’s sleep and sustainable action. Should we feel guilty about using air conditioning to get a better night’s sleep? Perhaps sleep is even the key to solving climate change…

Grab some tea, get comfy, and hit that play button.

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Article | National geographic -Climate change is eroding a precious resource: sleep 
Article | - Sleep More, Save the Planet? 
Article | Columbia News - Better sleep helps not just our bodies and minds but our planet too
Article | Greek reporter - Climate change could result in less sleep
Article | Rest: A revolutionary act in modern society
Article | Your future air conditioner might do way more than just cool your house
Article | What Is the Best Temperature for Sleep?
Article | The legacy of Europe’s heat waves will be more air conditioning. That’s a problem.
Article | Swamp Coolers Are a Cheap AC Alternative for Dry Climates. Here’s What to Know Before You Buy.
Article | Every AC In India Will Have 24 Degree Default Temperature: What This Means, How Will It Impact You?
Article | Spanish government to allow flexibility on air-conditioning, but rules out U-turn on decree
Article | What Is an Earthship?
Article | Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Article | How cutting your food waste can help the climate
Statistics | Global Emissions
Video |

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-Brandee and Hannah

Note: This transcript is mostly unedited.

Brandee   0:05  

It's not easy living on a dying planet. But it is easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to making changes and taking action to try and save it. Where do you start? Is it even worth it? Can you really make a difference? Welcome to The Tea on Sustainable Living podcast, where we attempt to answer these questions by spilling the tea on living sustainably in a world that's going to shit. I'm Brandee.

Hannah  0:26  

And I'm Hannah. And for years, we've been navigating the big messy gray area of caring about our planet. It hasn't always been smooth sailing, but we're not giving up yet. So brew yourself a cup of tea, get comfy. And let's try and navigate that gray area together.

Brandee   0:45  

Hello Give-a-Shitter. This is Brandee.

Hannah  0:47  

And this is Hannah. And you're listening to episode number 17 of The Tea on Sustainable Living podcast.

Brandee   0:55  

Cheers. We both have some Friday afternoon beverages. Yep. There's alcohol.

Hannah  1:03  

There is some alcohol involved? Because it's Friday. Friday, Friday. Yay. Friday. Oh, god. Oh.

Brandee   1:12  

Song has just popped into my head. Listener. Sorry. stuck in your head. For

Hannah  1:21  

now. Yeah. And you can Aegis from that comment, if you hadn't already got us pegged.

Brandee   1:28  

Oh, yeah. They probably have.

Hannah  1:32  

Yeah, I think so too. What are we talking about today? Randy? This is another one of our brand new episodes. Because I have been slacking a little bit in planning that episode. Number 18 and 19 are on me.

Brandee   1:50  

I think we have a list of ideas. There's some good ones that you just that would that would be good for the next ones. Yeah. But we can talk about that later. Because I feel like well, I feel like this has been like a mini series on like me just trying to ease my guilt on things. Like our last episode was about spending unnecessarily. And this one, well, as I'm recording this end of October, maybe might have been more appropriate late summer, early summer, middle summer to summer in general, because it's about sleep. And yeah, like how it's all related climate change and how taught her at night. So you turn on the fan? Yeah. Or in my case, air conditioner, which this summer was a lot more?

Hannah  2:32  

No, I'm quite excited about this episode. I feel like it's something I hadn't really thought about. Because obviously, I'm coming from the UK, and no one has air conditioning in the UK. And most people until recently, which kind of links to this podcast would even have like a fan. So it was only when I moved to LA actually, when I moved to Australia, I guess would be the first time I lived somewhere that was hot enough that you would have like air conditioning as a normal, normal item to have in your house.

Brandee   3:10  

And how many people have you know back home that now have a fan or even an air conditioner? It's like the summer was? It was yeah, you can I mean,

Hannah  3:17  

I still don't know anyone with air conditioning. I mean, I'm sure there are people that that do. But I think more people have fans. I like a lot more have like ended up picking up a fan, just because, you know, obviously you can't base climate change on individual bays. But you know, the summers recently have been hotter. And it's always that thing in the news. It's like, oh, and it's gonna be blazing hot this weekend. And there's like a run on the fans. And like, you know, it's not an item that people would have had before. Whereas I would say I wouldn't be surprised if most people had at least a fan. But I'm basing that on speculation and the fact that my family now owns a fan, which we didn't even think about when I was growing up.

Brandee   4:07  

Speaking of fans might have got lined up on my other computer and the fan just turned on. So I'm gonna close that, because I'll be able to edit that out.

Hannah  4:16  

Right. Yeah. And so you were you were wanting to talk about sleep right? And how that impacts us.

Brandee   4:25  

Yeah, so when I've just shut my other computer, there was an article I think it was National Geographic that basically Yeah, it's like hey, yeah, it's hotter and you can't sleep as well when it's hotter at night. I don't think that's like big news to anyone but there there is like science to it.

Hannah  4:42  

I have to say that was like quite an eye opening article for me. I think. Really? Yeah, I found it quite interesting. I think because to the premise of this article has been it's kind of hinted at is that or not really but like the the as we can't sleep as well. And that's kind of like we can't sleep as well. And the humans don't really adapt to warmer temperatures. And then the kind of premise is that when we have less sleep, we make decisions that, you know, we everyone's had like a sleepless night. It's really hard the next day you your your take out you don't go to the gym you like believe the pile of dishes and the thing, you know, just everyday things, but then that has more of an impact, right, that you can also like, extend that argument out to like, Okay, you're then make less sustainable decisions.

Brandee   5:42  

Yeah, right. It's like, well, because So climate change warmer nights affects your sleep. You don't sleep as well. Yeah, obviously. Because our bodies are like, designed. I think there is an ideal temperature of we don't know in Celsius, Fahrenheit, like 60. Something I've seen a range from like, like low to upper 60s, somewhere runner.

Hannah  6:03  

Yeah, I know. It said in the article that people slept better under 10 degrees. Was that okay? Which outside? Presumably not inside? Because 10 degrees is quite Yeah. So that's like 4550.

Brandee   6:19  

So it'd be about 50 Fahrenheit. 10 Celsius. Yeah. So I guess that makes it like 15 2015? Yeah. Yeah, somewhere around there. Anyway, Google Celsius and Fahrenheit conversions. But yeah, so it affects your sleep. And then it's like, it's a vicious cycle. And that, yeah, then you can, you don't have the energy, the mental capacity to, to make the same sustainable choices, because they often involve a bit more effort, you're gonna go for the convenient route, like we're humans, we're trying to want the easier route when it's in front of us takeout or, you know, drive, get a cab versus walking or taking a bus, etc. But then bring it back to sleep, then at night, you have a fan on all night or an air conditioner. And then that contributes more to the problem, whether it's using energy from interesting on, then in case an air conditioner literally, like puts hot air and like your immediate surroundings. So yeah, I

Hannah  7:19  

it was it was, yeah, I found that article I opening I think, because my initial reaction is more on the side of like, you should just kind of lump it. Right? It's like, okay, well, obviously within reason you know, living in Madrid, I definitely have like a fan on at night, in the summer, like it's just too hot. You you can't sleep without, or it's very difficult to sleep without something cooling you down. Although I did do one summer without a fan. But having got one, I regret it. But I think there's like a part of me as an over like, I couldn't really tell the difference is what I want to say. Between that summer I spent without a fan and I'm like, Why did I do that? That was crazy. Because it's so much more pleasant. And you sleep so much better, even with a fan. But I think there's that part of me that's like a little bit more like, oh, you know, come on. Like, it's okay, like, just stick with a fan or like, you know, do we really need air con? But I don't know, like Catholic guilt or something where I'm like, No, we should just like, get through it. But reading the article and kind of be really laid out the impact the negative impact of not sleeping.

Brandee   8:39  

I used to talk about the Atmos earth one or the National, National Geographic. I think there was another really good one that first kind of spurred all this as Atmos dot Earth. And in the article sleep more save the planet. Yeah, which I forgot that was the article name because I had temporarily put that as the title of this episode, but I don't think I'll steal the article name. I don't know what will title this. You know, you're listening to it now. So. But there, I'm gonna read this section of the article. When we sleep, so do most of the resources we depend on effectively preserving them our cars aren't running or computers are shut down or shut down. And most if not all of the lights are off. We're also not eating, showering or making coffee. This gives the planet time to recharge to. In fact, if over if the over 300 million people living in just the US alone got just one more hour of sleep at night, we could in theory save up to 2.4 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions every day. Plus, when we wake up after a full night of restful slumber, a more active and present mind can engage in longer lasting, sustainable choices. Yeah, that's like we were saying without this rest of the planet and people suffer. So I like the part of this that points out everything else that's like sleeping or not running. What we are, yeah, also resting.

Hannah  9:53  

Yeah, that's true.

Brandee   9:56  

So what do we do? How do we do Don't pizza skills because for the like the fan has never been an issue for me. Because I mean ever since freshman year of college like sharing a room and living in the dorm, I've had one on just for noise like white noise every night and when I'm like in a hotel or somewhere saying it to friends or families without it I like have to click like download a white noise applicants I'm just so used to it now.

Hannah  10:24  

So just to clarify both for myself and for the listeners when we use a fan or we're using is more electricity right that's the unsustainable part plus the resources that have gone into creating a fan Yeah. Whereas when we're using con the chemicals that that are used to cool down the air Yeah,

Brandee   10:53  

that's another aspect of it

Hannah  10:55  

is the negative part and that it also produces co2 Right

Brandee   11:00  

yeah and then but I'm not sure why more energy intensive okay and then more energy intensive. Yeah, because it's working in the air and then blowing it outwards evangelists blowing out the air that's already that's already there. Yeah. Yeah, not sure yeah, it's an ounce of like how the air conditioners work.

Hannah  11:18  

Yeah, cuz I did read and this is kind of like, like nice like tech solutions, I guess about a company that is trying to develop a way that they could actually filter out the co2 from the air outside. So they could do some sort of carbon capture while creating this the there while using the air conditioning because they're like sucking the air from outside, you know, in like office buildings like with big air conditioning units. So potentially they could be used for like a dual purpose.

Brandee   11:56  

Yeah. And another all in enough alternative air conditioners, which I looked into getting before I got mine that work off like evaporation because like when you like the one summer the first summer that I really tried not to buy an air conditioner. I put it off to like mid July, I think here. I bought a spray bottle, but I'm using water on you and then as the water evaporates off your skin, it has a cooling effect. I forget right? The why of it. But you can continuously spray yourself while you're sleeping.

Hannah  12:24  

Right? Yeah, it's and it is true. Like I don't know, how many people listening to this live in like hot climates, or have experienced that, but it is really difficult. Like I'm just thinking the same, you know, I mean, I've never had aircon This is the first place I've lived with a con and then just has it in the living room. But at night, you know, okay, we've got the fan. And now I'm going to put like, I've read about like wedding a scarf and I'm going to put the wet scarf on top of me or I'm going to put it in front of the fans so that the air is cooler and you like you come up with all of these ways to try and like cool down because it's really, you know, difficult. Yeah,

Brandee   13:06  

that was me and I've just caved and bought an air conditioner. which up until last summer. I've was good about using it only sparingly I would like maybe Boston for a little bit mostly like right before bed and then be able to turn it off and just be okay with the fan. And then I was like setting like an automatic shut off in like 234 hours whenever I can see that the temperature is going to be low enough that that I don't think it'll be an issue for me. But what happens is summer, the summer is just too hot, too many warm nights. And my bill I think I was still under my lowest winter bill. Because my apartment is horribly insulated and it does get quite cold. So my radiators on a bit more. And everything's electric and my my apartment. Yeah. So yeah, I used it I had it on throughout the night a lot more with the auto shutoff features to not like there may be a couple of nights where I was like, No, I just want a good night's sleep. I don't want to be disturbed when it shuts off. So there were still a couple nights where I just kept it on first. Whenever I wake up. Whenever I woke up, I turn it off. So maybe that's why I've been feeling and I felt especially guilty this summer. Because I think last summer I'd made my peace with it like okay, that's my air conditioner is summer talk. I'm going to use it so I can sleep.

Hannah  14:22  

Yeah, and I knew right because that is an interesting one because it when you were really hot. Okay with the air conditioning because it's this is one thing if we just using it in the context of sleep. But then it is feels like a slippery slope. Because it's so nice to be cool is when it's really hot outside and we're talking like you know, over 30 degrees over 40 There's some even Yeah, and some I mean I wasn't here but yeah, like really hot temperatures like and for like high 30s for like a Um, and then you just, you know, like that was the thing having the aircon in the living room. That's the first time I've had it. I was like, I just want to be a bit caught.

Brandee   15:08  

Yeah, when I had COVID. And I was a bit cold for the better part of the week because yeah, I when you're sick, you just want me to be bundled up.

Hannah  15:17  

Right? So it's like finding maybe the balance is finding? What are those rules for you? Yeah. And I think trying to stick to them.

Brandee   15:30  

Yes, and then constantly re evaluating because like anything, you have to kind of adjust over time. But there are a couple more things I wanted to touch on there. People always say, Okay, well, you've been living your hair long, and you're still not used to it, you haven't adapted and I forget which of the articles, but we'll link all of them in the show notes. We're saying how it's not as easy as you might think, I think if you've grown up somewhere. And the temperature has been relatively the same, if it hasn't been, you know, steadily increasing over the years, because of what we're doing to the planet. So people I know who just aren't that bothered by heating it, but they didn't grow up with an air conditioner. So yeah, I think that's a big difference, too. But I don't think it's as easy to just adapt if you move to a new country, or somewhere warmer. Yeah. I don't know. I feel like that reading that in the article also, like helped with the guilt a bit like, I'm, I'm in America, and especially Texas, where I'm originally from air conditioning blasting everywhere, you have to bring like an extra layer with you everywhere you go. Because you'll be freezing as soon as you walk inside, like anywhere. So that's, that's a big thing that we're like overcome. So,

Hannah  16:41  

yeah, I read an in an article as well, which I thought was an interesting kind of midway solution, but kind of on that point of when the aircon is so cold. And it was I think it was in India that they changed. The I don't know if it was like a legal change, or it was something a company decided to do. But to change the automatic, like the default setting of the aircon from I think, you know, from like 20 degrees to 24 degrees.

Brandee   17:11  

Oh, yeah, the summer that they changed, right for that day as well. They did. It was like shopping centers. And I think it was a general like blanket any kind of public spaces. There was a limit and I forget the exact number but it still felt a bit high. And then I think they came back out. Okay, not for that this limit won't apply to like hotels or gyms. Try and find a news article. Um,

Hannah  17:38  

but yeah, I just like how much do we need? Is it okay to be a bit uncomfortable? Like, where do you find where do you put the limit? Is it okay to put that limit on other people? Yeah. And I would maybe argue that yes, it is. Yeah, but like, like spaces, and someone's home, then I guess they can do what they want. But yeah, I think you have to be, you know, with public spaces, like to not overdo it. And I don't know what the right number is. Right.

Brandee   18:09  

But I think there was one shopping center, I went to this summer. And I felt like I was hotter inside and out is whatever they have the settings and all the people that were inside. And I looked I think I like a lot of people will look to go to like a movie theater shopping center where, excuse me where they know, it's gonna be cooler to cool. Yeah, like you're drowning for the day. So then you remove that. And then like, I got dangerously hot this summer. So if you're elderly or have health condition, you're like, you know, at risk population when it gets really, really hot. It's just really unsafe. So not having to go

Hannah  18:45  

to cool. Yeah. And that is another question as well, isn't it? You know, with this thing of the rising temperatures, obviously, we can say, oh, but you know, in the past, like our ancestors didn't have like air conditioning, you know, or fans. But the temperatures are hotter. And also maybe we need to re emphasize, like traditional building technologies. And we've kind of gone the other way. It's like, okay, we don't you know, we're not adapting to Earth. We're like, adapting the earth to us. Yes. And actually, we need to kind of go back the other way and say, All right, like the traditional like, all the white houses that you find in, in Greece and in the south of Spain, like painting the buildings, why

Brandee   19:35  

have you heard about that? It's chips and chips. It's where they like, make, like, you're like you're saying they're they build their houses out of like clay and they design it with the sun in mind for like optimal heating and cooling and peak like winter and summer. Right. I'll send you some videos and we'll like like one or two.

Hannah  19:53  

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Stuff like that, that we kind of need to to perhaps look at again, and also you we start need to start applying those, perhaps to countries like the UK where we haven't needed to do that before. Other lessons we can take in the UK, for example from the Mediterranean, that are used to hotter climates and other ways that we can, you know, adapt buildings. But yeah, at the same time, kind of recognizing maybe temperatures are more extreme now. And like you said, like in Spain, I mean, I don't think most well, you know, I'd be interested to know, but I don't think most buildings have air conditioning. Like homes. You know, the most that I've seen in Spain, the in the hotter areas, which wouldn't be considered Madrid, but would be the people with the ceiling fans. Right? And those are fans, they're not air conditioning.

Brandee   20:57  

Yeah, heating is much more common here. Yeah. And yeah, Michigan, cuz yeah, it gets cold. We have a 10 minute morning. So we'll try and wrap this up within the next 10 minutes. Something I thought of while you were talking, I don't remember the source. But as far as like the group's, like the top contributors to greenhouse gases, it's like, food is a big one type of food, you consume transportation, and I think buildings and infrastructure is like a huge one. Yeah, building constructions. And yeah, the, the resources, like a large like office building, for example, will, yeah, will consume the emissions that creates from that, if your air conditioning, like a whole, whole building,

Hannah  21:41  

right. And also the kind of trying to be more aware in those spaces, like office buildings. And I mean, in your homes as well, but like, you know, when a, and this is hard, especially if the system is through the whole building, but there might be offices that are closed for parts of the summer, but they're still getting air conditioned, or they're still getting heated in the winter. Other ways, other things that we can do to change that or to change systems, so that it's easier to like, isolate different elements, like, you know, we've been talking about the summer, but also in winter with a heating, you don't necessarily need to heat your whole house, you might just need to heat certain rooms, and then turn that off in rooms that you don't use as often.

Brandee   22:31  

Yeah, and in the US, it's common for homes. I don't know how much apartment buildings, but they're like vents that you have like a little what's the word not a toggle, whatever event even close or open? So that's an option too. But I also think it might be I think my my approach to this for non might be similar to like carbon offsetting, or flying like, except that it's it's like flying, like, it's a thing that I'm not willing to give up. So how can I reduce it and then focus my efforts elsewhere? And I guess not let the guilt like bog you down? Yeah, exactly. Because, yeah, so to bring it back again, once you have a good night's sleep, you are you do have the physical and mental energy to to make the types of decisions or changes you want to make in terms of the environment less and less impact.

Hannah  23:28  

Yeah, and, and without? Yeah, well, sleep is so essential. Exactly. Like, you only just need to think to the last time you've had a bad night's sleep and think how you felt the next day to be like, sleep is really important.

Brandee   23:46  

And then think about a time where you had like a really good night's sleep and how like, a good day you heard your energy, and we were super productive or just in a good mood.

Hannah  23:54  

Yeah. So what do we do? Is there anything else we can do than just accepting where we are?

Brandee   24:04  

I don't know that I wrote anything down an outline.

Hannah  24:07  

I'm okay. Stop climate change.

Brandee   24:10  

Oh, yeah, that was one. That was at the end of one of the articles where it was like, We Okay, so climate change affects their sleep. The solution is to have air conditioners and fans. But that's not great for the climate. So stop climate change.

Hannah  24:23  

Whatever article, I mean, that that's

Brandee   24:25  

shifting your efforts, like figuring out Yeah, we talked about all the time, what is your priority? Because yeah, those other two categories are said transportation and food, like, those are big areas. And one of the quotes I like to share is that if if food waste were a country would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after US and China. So like, doing something that would feel like an easy thing to incorporate, like starting to waste less food, if you can compost in your city or at home, or just figure out ways to waste less by less, whatever it is that you can start to incorporate doesn't feel like a huge change, but has a bigger impact than you might think.

Hannah  25:04  

It's weird, we're just shifting the blame. We're like we want to sleep and be calm.

Brandee   25:15  

shifting the blame, I think it's accepting that, okay, this is it's not an all or nothing thing, like fine. Like in our episode, we agreed, like, we're not willing to give up flying to see friends and family members experience new places. So aware of the impact that it has tried to lessen it, and then do alternatives that help lessen the problem that we're feeling guilty about contributing to like, there are other ways like there's not one way. Yeah. To solve the climate crisis. Which is why we have this podcast. It's such a big gray area, like dealing with all of these Yeah. Ah, things. Yeah. Yeah. Anything else?

Hannah  25:58  

No, really? I think. Yeah. I think we have an episode to do about sacrifice.

Brandee   26:12  

Episode with your hands, because I think I know how it's gonna go. Which means we probably should do it. Yeah. Okay. All right. You get planning on that one? Yeah. I might show up having already had a few sliders.

Hannah  26:33  

Yeah, it's complicated. Do what you can. Yeah. That's,

Brandee   26:37  

I mean, that's ultimately a bit more can and then try and do a bit more?

Hannah  26:43  

Yeah. What else you can do? Yeah. Let us know. Do you use air con fans? Would you if you live somewhere hot? Do you we do

Brandee   26:54  

have the same guilt that I do about using them? How do you deal with it? Give us some tips.

Hannah  27:01  

Yeah. Speak to you next Tuesday. tune to the teachers that into Tuesday's intend to interfere this.

Brandee   27:12  

And if you're not listening to this when it comes out, hopefully in just a few minutes, and just less than a minute when you're going to just hit play on the next episode. Okay, two minute warning. All right. Love you all and follow us on Instagram at the TN sustainable living and send us your voice notes. The T on sustainable Anything thoughts? Questions? Yeah. spill your own tea and we will almost certainly feature it in an episode. Right? That's all I have to say goodbye.

Hannah  27:47  

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of The Tea on Sustainable Living podcast. Now go share it with a friend, a co worker, a partner, a family member, or whoever. A pet, your cat, someone on the street.

Brandee   28:02  

Whoever you think could use a little more support on their sustainability journey, share it.

Hannah  28:06  

You can send them over to our website, And while you're there, check out the show notes for more info on today's topic. 

Brandee   28:15  

All right, Give-a-Shitter, tea you later. Get it? Tea you later? As in, see you later? So punny… 

Hannah  28:22  


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