Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by Louise Carter
While some people find thunder soothing and relaxing, like the sound of rainfall, others find the experience frightening. That’s because sleeping during thunder and lightning carries risk.
Thunderstorms cause changes to the air’s atmosphere, which means that people with asthma can find breathing more difficult while the thunderstorm is active.
Equally, people with sleep apnea are likelier to suffer cardiac events during thunder and lightning.
If you struggle to sleep during a thunderstorm or want to make yourself safer, sleep on a lower level and keep your bed or couch away from any surfaces that contain metal.
Never sleep on the floor, as lightning can travel to ground level.
If you know a thunderstorm is coming, consider using earplugs and an eye mask so the sound and light don’t keep you awake. Also, do whatever you can to calm anxiety before bed.
Should I be Scared of Thunder and Lightning?
The fear of thunder and lightning is known as astraphobia.
The Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research explains how this is most common in children. However, it can carry over to adulthood, especially among those who’ve experienced past trauma.
It’s easy to say that nobody should fear thunder and lightning when safely inside, but it’s not that simple, as many people remain afraid of the bright, sudden lights and noises associated with storms.
As per Harvard Health, there are valid concerns surrounding thunder and lightning while we sleep.
Changes to the atmosphere during a storm can cause breathing difficulty in asthmatics, while people with sleep apnea are also at risk of adverse reactions.
If you’re afraid of thunder and lightning, take steps to protect yourself until the storm passes.
Is It Bad To Sleep Next To A Window During A Thunderstorm?
If thunder and lightning make you uncomfortable, you may face your fear and pull up a front-row seat, watching the storm from your window.
If you’re not afraid of storms, you may want to hear the thunder from close range.
Move your bed away from the window. When lightning strikes metal, it acts as a conductor. If your mattress is too close to a window that contains metal, electricity can travel and cause a shock.
How far away should you be from a window during a thunderstorm?
Move your bed to the middle of the room so it doesn’t touch another surface, including walls. This protects you from electricity traveling around the room in the event of a lightning strike.
Why Can’t I Sleep During a Thunderstorm?
One reason a thunderstorm disturbs your sleep is noise and flashes of light.
Circadian rhythms inform our bodies that it’s time to sleep and promote the release of melatonin. Loud noises and bright lights disturb our circadian rhythms and keep us awake.
The changes in air pressure may also make it feel like the air is thin. If you often experience shortness of breath, consider getting an air purifier or keeping some houseplants in your bedroom.
Of course, it’s also possible that the thunderstorm outside your window is making you anxious.
PloS One stated that anxiety and insomnia often go hand in hand. Restful sleep will be difficult if your heart races and you feel uncomfortable and unsafe.
How To Sleep with Thunder And Lightning
If you’re reluctant to sleep during a thunderstorm, it’ll be tempting to stay awake until the weather passes and the skies return to normal.
This may be better than trying and failing to doze off, but it’ll have repercussions in the morning.
Getting at least some sleep at night is always advisable – even a few hours of rest is better than nothing. The more you fight the urge to sleep, the harder it’ll be to doze off eventually.
You can utilize techniques to make sleeping easier and remain safe during a thunderstorm.
Try any combination of these techniques to stand a better chance of falling asleep, ideally before the thunder and lightning reach a crescendo.
Block Sound and Vision
Sensory deprivation seems to be the most straightforward solution if the sound of thunder and bright lightning flashes keeps you awake.
Wear an eye mask and ear plugs or use a white noise machine to obstruct hearing and sight.
However, this is the equivalent of ignoring a problem until it disappears. Further action will be necessary if you have any reason to question your safety when sleeping during a thunderstorm.
Calm Your Anxiety
If you’re anxious and afraid when you climb into bed, you’re unlikely to be relaxed enough to fall asleep.
It’s easier said than done, but try to soothe your fears before bed to increase your chances of restful sleep. Techniques for calming anxiety at night include:
- Work off your stress hormones through exercise.
- Listen to calming music.
- Darken the room.
- Write down any fears you may be experiencing.
Counting the seconds between lightning strikes and thunderclaps may ease your anxiety if there’s a prolonged period between the sounds.
When lightning strikes, it creates temperatures up to 50,000 OF – five times the sun’s heat.
The air cools immediately and contracts, creating a soundwave (thunder). Essentially, thunder acts as a warning that lightning is nearby.
It takes the sound of thunder 5 seconds to travel one mile. Count the seconds between a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder, and divide this by 5.
If it takes five seconds or less to hear thunder after lightning, the lightning is within 1 mile of your home.
Over time, the pauses between thunder and lightning should grow longer. 10 seconds means the lightning is two miles away; 15 seconds means it is three miles away, and so on.
Knowing the storm is passing and moving away from your home may help you relax.
Don’t calm your nerves with a shower or bath. While a shower may usually help you sleep, if lightning strikes your home while you are running water, electricity can pass through the water.
Is It Safe to Watch TV in Bed During A Thunderstorm?
One way to calm your anxiety is to distract yourself until the thunderstorm passes.
Finding yourself engrossed in your favorite TV show may seem a good way to take your mind off the inclement weather conditions.
Watching TV during a thunderstorm isn’t dangerous to your health, but your TV set may be vulnerable. If lightning strikes the electrical grid, appliances could experience a power surge caused by over-voltage.
It’s better to unplug electrical appliances during a thunderstorm.
If you want to watch TV, stream using your cellphone, tablet, or laptop (assuming these appliances are not plugged in to charge), read a book by candlelight or use a cordless lamp or torch.
Sharing a Bed During a Thunderstorm
Some people find it easier to sleep through a storm if they can call on a “thunder buddy.” It’s easier to sleep when we share a bed with somebody we love.
When you sleep in separate rooms because a partner snores, call an amnesty for the night, as snoring may block out thunder and appear comforting by comparison.
Natural Sleep Aid
If you know a thunderstorm is coming, stock up on natural sleep aids. It’s not recommended to seek prescription sleeping pills if you must react quickly to something that happens during the storm.
Eating a banana no later than 1 hour before sleep can promote restfulness.
Bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid that encourages the brain to release melatonin when you’re in a dark room. This may help you doze off before the storm gets too loud or bright.
Sleep in a Different Room
Thunder and lightning arise from the clouds, so the higher you are in the house, the louder and closer they will appear to be. You may sleep better if you spend the night on the couch on a lower floor.
Is it Safer to be Upstairs or Downstairs During a Thunderstorm?
Lightning will strike the first point it reaches, so it’s safer to be downstairs during a thunderstorm.
This isn’t a concern if you live on the lower floors of an apartment block, but avoid the attic or top floors until the storm passes.
Sleep in the basement if this makes you feel safer, and the room is equipped for habitation. Stay off the floor, as the ground level is just as dangerous as higher ground when lightning strikes.
Is it Safe to Sleep on the Floor During Lightning?
Never lay down on the floor when there’s lightning. Even sleeping on an air mattress is inadvisable. Ensure you’re elevated to some extent, even if it’s just a futon or pullout bed.
The electrical current generated by lightning is powerful, reaching as far as 100 feet.
Imagine that lightning strikes a metal pole outside your home. If this runs to the ground, sleeping on the floor increases the risk of electrocution.