Rain: The Natural Remedy for a Better Rest (Credit: Verywell Mind, Health, Live Science, Daily Mail)
DISCUSSION: Take a moment to recall falling asleep on a rainy night. Did you feel frightened and uneasy or relaxed and clear-headed? If you fall under the second category of relaxed and clear-headed, you’re not alone! So, the question becomes ‘why have so many people found it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep when it’s raining outside?’ As you can imagine, there is some really cool science behind the answer.
Image: A woman sleeping peacefully
Well, it all stems from autonomic nervous system(ANS) activity. Also known as the fight-or-flight instinct or threat-activated vigilance system, ANS is a protective mechanism in the brain that determines whether not a situation is dangerous and requires you to go into defense mode. In turn, it helps determine when the fear response is appropriate. Now, imagine you’re about to fall asleep and you are startled by a loud, abrupt noise like a siren. The vigilance system will cause your brain to interpret that sound as a threat which yields increased heart rate, causes you to become tense, and makes it harder to fall asleep. Contrarily, the sound of rain is perceived as a calming non-threat and therefore assists in the sleeping process.
There is additional research from Pennsylvania State University that further explains this process. Specifically, it found that you are more susceptible to wake-up from sudden noises out of your control than from sounds that gradually increase in volume. Since rain water gradually varies in volume and blocks out noises the brain considers threats, it relaxes your fight instincts and allows your brain to focus more on sleep.
Whether you suffer from insomnia or are just having a hard time falling asleep on a given night, remember that the rain has a natural restorative effect on your psyche, and may be the solution to sleeping through the night. As we end April, expect to see more springtime showers. Here’s to a good night’s rest!
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© 2018 Weather Forecaster Amber Liggett