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Why Do I Sleep Better When It Rains? 3 Research-Backed Reasons

by Dale Cudmore | Updated: Jul 21, 2021

If you feel that you sleep better when it rains, you’re not imagining things.

There are 3 main reasons, backed by research, that explain why people typically sleep better during rainy weather.

I’ll summarize them in this short post.

Rain Sounds Can Produce Pink Noise

We’ve all heard of “white noise,” typically referring to background static that makes it easier to quiet an overactive mind.

White noise helps many people sleep, but pink noise is even better for sleeping.

Research has shown that rain sounds are just as good as lullabies for getting children to sleep (1).

It turns out that steady rain is a form of “pink noise,” and studies have found that it helps to not only get to sleep, but overall sleep quality as well (2):

...showed significant enhancement in the percentage of stable sleep time compared to the control group...

Pink noise helps us feel safe and comfortable, and helps us clear our busy minds of distracting thoughts that can make it hard to get to sleep.

It makes sense evolutionarily speaking as well. When it’s raining, there’s less chance of being in a dangerous situation, like being attacked by predators.

However, note that only steady rain is a form of pink noise. Loud crashes of thunder may still disturb your sleep.

SummaryThe sounds and rhythm of most rain produces pink noise, which has been shown to help most people get to sleep, and have a greater amount of stable (restorative) sleep time.

Rainy Days and Nights Are Darker

One of the biggest enemies of good sleep is light.

We have light coming from sunlight, screens, light bulbs, street lights, appliances, etc. in modern life at all times of the day.

This is a problem because light lowers melatonin production.

Even standard room light has a significant effect in delaying melatonin production at night (up to 90 minutes) (4).

Melatonin is the main hormone involved in regulating our circadian rhythm, and telling our brains and bodies that it’s time to go to sleep. It’s stimulated by a lack of light.

But when it rains:

  • There’s less light coming in from outside
  • You’re more likely to keep screen brightness down
  • You’re more likely to keep unnecessary lights on

SummaryIn short, when it rains, you’re exposed to less indoor and outdoor light, which helps your body produce melatonin. This makes it easier to get to sleep and stay asleep.

Rainy Weather Is Usually Colder, and We Sleep Better in the Cold

Part of good sleep hygiene for avoiding insomnia is sleeping at a temperature that is not too hot, but not too cold.

In general, research shows that people sleep better in the cold.

While it depends on where you live and what season it is, the most common issue most people have is being too hot at night.

That’s a problem, since your body temperature is supposed to be the lowest at night.

Your room temperature should be about 65°F (18.3°C), plus or minus a few degrees Celsius (3), but you also need an appropriate amount of bedding.

Back to the rain...

By its very nature, the water vapor in the air condenses to rain when it becomes colder.

Rain clouds also block out light, reducing heat generated from light passing through your windows further.

SummaryIt’s possible that it’s not the rain itself helping you sleep, but the colder temperature that comes along with it.

How To Always Sleep With Rain

You can actually test if it’s just the sound of rain that helps you sleep, or the temperature (although it could be both).

Use a site like Rainy Mood to play rain sounds in the background while you try to sleep for a few nights, just click the big play button.

Then, without the rain sounds, try a few nights with your thermostat lowered by a few extra degrees and see if that has any effect.

Finally, do both, and compare the results of each test. How fast you fell asleep and how well rested are you?

References

  1. Effect of Lullaby Music versus Rain Sounds on Inducing Sleep in the First 20 Minutes of Daycare Naptime
  2. Pink noise: effect on complexity synchronization of brain activity and sleep consolidation
  3. Effects of thermal environment on sleep and circadian rhythm
  4. Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens Melatonin Duration in Humans


Medical Disclaimer: The information on SnoozeUniversity.com is not intended to be a substitute for physician or other qualified care. We simply aim to inform people struggling with sleep issues about the nature of their condition and/or prescribed treatment.


About the authorDale is the founder of Snooze University and a sleep researcher. I overcame my sleep issues and now I'd like to help you do the same by summarizing the latest sleep studies for you.