Do you sleep better when it rains? Anecdotally, people say yes, and there have been a few articles flying around that claim to back this up with science. But it all sounded a little tenuous, so we decided to reach out to an expert to see if there's any truth in the suggestion that rainy weather can result in a better night's sleep.
"Australia's #1 Sleep Expert" Olivia Arezzolo has qualifications in psychology, sleep psychology, and nutritional medicine, so she seemed like a good place to start. While not all the claims hold true, Olivia says there are a couple of scientific reasons why we're more likely to sleep easier in wet weather.
The first is to do with pink noise. Pink noise is similar to white noise, but deeper, with reduced higher frequencies. You'll probably have heard of people using white noise to minimise ambient sounds and night, and for its soothing properties. But pink noise can have slightly different effects.
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"Rain acts as pink noise – and evidence indicates this frequency can increase slow wave sleep by 8%," explains Olivia. "Considering we only spend 20% of our total sleep time in slow wave sleep, this is a significant jump. This is because it synchronises our brainwaves into slower patterns, more conducive to deep sleep."
The second reason why we might see an improvement in sleep when it rains is that drizzly weather often also means there's less brightness from the sun during the day. This is turn encourages the production of melatonin, the key hormone that leads to sleepiness, explains Olivia. "This helps us feel sleepy and encourages an earlier bedtime. This may be supported by the fact that typically, rain comes in the winter months where daylight is shorter too."
Some of the best wake-up lights have SAD modes that are specifically designed to suppress or encourage melatonin production in line with their sunset and sunrise cycles.
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