We all know the feeling: the rain starts and all we want to do is curl up in a blanket, grab a good book, and drift off to sleep. What is it about the rain that makes us so sleepy?
First, let’s break down how the sound of rain affects two of our five senses, making us ready to snooze.
One of the reasons even a gentle rainfall makes us sleepy or lazy is because it produces white noise. White noise minimizes how much outside noise we can hear, suppressing our senses and making us feel more tired.
More specifically, the human brain perceives sounds as threatening and non-threatening. The pitter patter of water or rain are non-threatening to us, meaning both are very calming. Also, rain tends to fall at varying volumes, the intervals being less jarring and more peaceful than say a scream or a thud.
Another very simple reason that rain makes us sleepy is that the sound of rain is often accompanied by a dark and rather gloomy ambiance. Less sunlight means less stimulation, making you feel sleepier.
Being exposed to sunlight also increases your serotonin, which makes you happier. This emotional boost may make you more energetic. When it’s overcast, you won’t produce as much serotonin, making you more likely to want a long nap.
Further, more darkness means more melatonin. That’s right—our brains actually secrete melatonin (a sleep-related hormone) in the dark or when the light is dark. Since rainy days involve dark clouds blocking out the sun, the dim environment can lead to increased melatonin production by the brain.
Tips for Staying Awake When It’s Rainy
Since it’s springtime, we’re all bound to wake up to a gray day or two. During those spring showers (that bring May flowers!), don’t immediately go for a caffeine fix. That jolt of energy can take eight hours to wear off, which can do major damage to our healthy sleep cycles and immunity.
Next time it’s a rainy day, here are 5 healthy tips to help you stay awake that don’t involve caffeine.
- Take a nap to counteract sleepiness. Don’t take more than one and don’t take it too near to your bedtime. If you can’t nap because you’re busy or working but feel incredibly lazy, resting quietly with your eyes closed for 10 minutes can help.
- Get up and move around. One study found that people felt more energized after taking a brisk, 10-minute walk than by eating a candy bar. While the sugar boost provided a quick jolt of energy that wears off within an hour, the 10-minute walk increased energy for two full hours. Moving around frequently and taking brief walks when you can will leave you feeling refreshed and more alert.
- Have a conversation. Whether it’s a colleague, friend, family member, or even your dog, engaging in a conversation is a great way to get your mind moving on a rainy day. Talking is a behavioral stimulator. Having just a five-minute chat on the phone that’s casual and nonchalant can help you get switched on.
- Let there be light! Since dim, grey lighting boosts melatonin production, making sure your environment has plenty of light will help reduce fatigue. Several studies have shown that exposure to bright light can boost alertness and reduce tiredness.
- Take part in a little exercise. Even though it might be harder to motivate yourself when it’s rainy, exercising for 20-30 minutes straight can mitigate daytime fatigue. Regular exercise is also great for improving the quality of your sleep.
There are plenty of holistic ways to boost your energy when it’s raining outside and make sure your regular sleep routine stays on track. To take it one step further, a key component to safe, healthy sleep in rain or shine is the quality of what you’re sleeping on.
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