Last Updated on August 25, 2023 by Louise Carter
It’s common to feel fatigued when it rains. The rhythmic sound of rain on a roof or window has soothing properties, and the body struggles to suppress melatonin release on wet or cloudy days.
Rain is often described as white noise, but it’s actually pink noise.
The difference is that white noise creates multiple sounds of equal volume, while pink noise emphasizes lower frequencies. This means the bassy, rhythmic thud of rain masks other sounds.
The pink noise of rainfall overpowers all other senses, lulling our brains into a sedated, relaxed state. Stress and anxiety melt away, and the temperature drops, instinctively making us seek sleep.
It doesn’t need to be raining outside for us to feel sleepy. When rain is in the air but yet to fall, pressure in the atmosphere falls, and oxygen becomes increasingly scarce.
The body reacts to this by slowing the metabolism, which in turn leaves us feeling sleepy.
The human brain can’t tell the difference between genuine rain and the sound of a recording, meaning this sleep aid can be used in any weather conditions.
Why Does Rain Make Me Sleepy?
Few feelings can compare to the safety and security we experience while warm and dry indoors while heavy rain pounds on our windows.
Often, this leads to an overriding urge to take a nap. Why do we like to sleep when it rains?
For some people, rain and other poor weather conditions are linked to feelings of sadness and even depression. In addition to asking, “Why do rain and thunder sound make you sleepy?” query whether you feel heavy-hearted when the noise begins.
If you’re prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), you’ll likely spend the winter feeling lethargic and sleepy. Feeling sad makes us tired, and we can do little to control the weather outside our homes.
There are three other reasons rain makes us tired – temperature changes, the reliable, rhythmic sounds of rainfall, and the sense of relaxation that precipitation can have on the human mind.
The ambient temperature is likely to drop when it rains outside.
Sometimes, this is because rain is accompanied by chill wind and a cold front. This can lead to a short-, medium-, or long-term change to temperatures in your town.
Rainfall can also lead to dynamic cooling. The temperature in the clouds, where the rain originates, is lower than the ground level where we dwell. As raindrops fall, they reduce the temperature of the air.
Raindrops also evaporate as they fall from the sky toward the ground. Every time this happens, the air cools just a little. The temperature will rapidly decrease in heavy rainfalls.
Unless you use an artificial heat source to combat this change in the atmosphere, your home will become colder to match the temperatures outside. When the body temperature drops, we feel ready for sleep.
Rainfall is among the most popular settings on white noise machines, but it’s technically classed as pink noise. A study in Industrial Health found that pink noise is connected to a night of deep, restful sleep.
White Noise vs. Pink Noise for Sleep
While white and pink noise aids sleep, Noise and Health claims that pink noise improves the ability to focus on a task and memory upon waking.
This suggests that pink noise leads to more benefits associated with deep, restful sleep.
Examples of white noise and pink noise are as follows.
|Static from an electrical appliance
|A whirring of AC or a tower fan
|Rustling of leaves
|Strong, gusty winds
|Crashing ocean waves
Many people who sleep with background sounds will prefer white or pink noise. If you want to experience this for the first time, consider the pink noise of a recording of steady rainfall.
Can the Brain Tell the Difference Between Genuine Rain and a Recording?
If you live in dry, arid conditions, you’re unlikely to experience the sound of rainfall often. This means you’ll need to rely upon recordings to gain the benefits of pink noise.
As per Neuron, the human brain can’t distinguish between a genuine and recorded sound. The same response will be triggered – a desire to avoid threats and retain safety by staying inside and falling asleep.
If you grow nervous when it is wet outside, especially when deep rumbles of thunder accompany rainfall, be cautious about listening to recordings. Anxiety may keep you awake.
Usually, the sound of rain is calming rather than agitating.
Perioperative Medicine said that, for most people, the sound of rainfall is relaxing and diminishes anxiety. This can be a key explanation as to why rain makes us sleepy.
A racing mind that constantly fields worries can leave us more exhausted than we realize.
In some respects, the same could be said of conventional entertainment. Watching TV or attempting to read a book won’t relax the mind like rainfall.
Nature explains that “natural” or “green” sounds, like precipitation, relax the mind more than artificial sounds, like music, dialog, or other forms of entertainment.
This suggests rainfall is a sustainable antidote for anxiety rather than a short-term distraction.
Why Do I Get Sleepy Before It Rains?
Some people feel they can predict impending rain through aches and pains in the body or a sense of tiredness. The atmosphere changes before the rain falls, and the body reacts accordingly.
A drop in atmospheric pressure causes rain. Oxygen in the air becomes lower when the pressure drops. Not to the point that we are left gasping for breath, but enough for the body to react by slowing down metabolism and growing less reliant on oxygen.
When metabolism slows, all organs in the body slow down with it. This makes movement or activity more effort than when it’s dry with blue skies.
Before long, sleep seems like the most sensible action until things change.
Why Does Cloudy Weather Make Me Tired?
Rain isn’t the only weather that makes us sleepy. You’ll likely feel tired if you look out the window and see a sky filled with dark clouds. This is because a lack of natural light impacts circadian rhythms.
The human body’s circadian rhythms rely upon contrasts of darkness and light. Sunlight tells the body to rise and remain awake and alert.
After the sun goes down, circadian rhythms tell the body it’s time to sleep. That’s why, even if we have been largely inactive across a day, we start to feel increasingly sleepy as the night draws in.
On a cloudy day, the circadian rhythms grow confused. On a bright and sunny day, we’ll start to feel awake and alert just 10 minutes into sitting by a window and basking in the sunlight.
If clouds mask the sun, it takes at least 30 minutes to feel the same effect.
The less light your body encounters, the more your body will struggle to suppress the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Cloudy days will see more of this hormone surging through your body, creating a desire to rest and nap.
The best way to combat this is specialist lighting that replicates the sensation of sunlight, varyingly described as daylight lamps, SAD light boxes, and sun lamps.
This light can trick the circadian rhythms into believing the sun is shining, suppressing melatonin.
Should I Listen to Rain Sounds When I Cannot Sleep?
As discussed, the sound of rain can help you fall and remain asleep if you’re struggling to doze off.
The noise alone will not negate the impact of caffeine or other stimulants that keep you awake, but it can go a long way to encouraging sleep.
Before getting in a pink noise machine and growing reliant on the sound of rain to fall asleep, ask yourself some important questions:
- If you share a bed, will your partner be comfortable with the sound of rain overnight, or do they need to sleep in silence?
- Will you always have access to an artificial noise resource? If you grow reliant on pink noise to sleep, it can become problematic when you can’t use it.
- Is it safe to listen to external noise overnight? Will you still be able to hear important sounds, like crying children or fire alarms?
If you can negotiate these concerns, there’s no harm in utilizing the sedative properties of pink noise.