I look forward to a thunderstorm, especially at night. I love opening up the window and listening to the rain hit the pavement, the rolling thunder, and the wind rustling through the trees. The smell of the rain and the way lightning lights up the room adds to the experience, creating a sleepy setting.
Nature has a way of setting the mood for a perfect night’s sleep. Many people feel the same way about rain. Noise machines, sleep apps, and playlists all have thunderstorm sounds to help people sleep. It has been dubbed “thunder therapy,” and it really works!
Rain sounds became a massive hit in 2020, trending on streaming sites. For example, artist and musician Grimes revealed that her top song of the year was Lluvia PQ’s “Rain All Night.” The song is a three-and-a-half-minute track consisting of ambient rain sounds and has over 25 million listens!
It’s no surprise rain songs are on so many playlists and trending on streaming platforms like Spotify. They are scientifically proven to have a relaxing, sleep-inducing effect. In 2016 a study was conducted at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. They found that nature sounds, including rain and thunder, have a relaxing effect. When we hear rain, our fight or flight instinct is reduced. The study also compared nature sounds to white noise machines and found nature sounds to be more impactful. Individuals who listened to white noise like an AC machine or office chatter displayed inward-focused attention patterns, which are often linked to anxiety, PTSD, and depression. Alternatively, those who listened to nature sounds like rain showed external-focused attention, which is linked to relaxation.
Rain is considered pink noise, which differs from white noise in a few ways. First, white noise is artificially constructed and contains a spectrum of frequencies. Pink noise, on the other hand, doesn’t have higher frequencies. Instead, it is a consistent “whoosh” sound and is deeper than white noise.
When you open the window to let in the rainy air, you enhance the sleep-inducing effect. This is because rain increases negative ion content which is caused by lightning, and the friction between air and rain. Negative ions positively affect our bodies, specifically our nervous system, blood system, cardiovascular system, and respiratory system. This will help you feel more comfortable as research has found that a large number of negative ions can have a hypnotic effect, which helps you fall asleep faster.
In addition to an increase in negative ions, there is a decrease in oxygen. Oxygen stimulates our brain, making us feel more alert and refreshed. When it rains, this is reduced because of an increase in water vapor, lowering air pressure and oxygen content. This is why we tend to feel more sluggish and sleepier during rainy days.
The smell of rain is unique and has a calming effect too. Plants secrete oils during dry periods, and when it rains, these oils mix with a chemical in the soil called geosmin. This creates a musky smell when the earth gets wet. The other scent is ozone which is compared to the smell of bleach, chlorine, or clean bedsheets. Both scents create a familiar, cozy feel.
A thunderstorm is a sensory experience, and sound plays a huge part. The sound is very rhythmic, helping you feel more sleepy. Research has found that rain sounds produce alpha waves in the brain, similar to the brain’s sleeping state. The sound is between 0 and 20 kHz, which is considered soothing (see our blog on relaxing sleep music for more info). According to Dr. Shelby Harris, a behavioral sleep medicine specialist, “rain is predictable, calming, stable and non-threatening.” She explained that the steady sound of rain lulls your brain to sleep and puts you in a meditative state.
If it has been rainy all day, you will likely have an increase in melatonin. On rainy days, clouds will block the sun, which will cause an increase in melatonin secretion, making you feel tired. Because it is darker, your eyes will also produce a sleep-related protein, encouraging sleep. These sleepy feelings, in addition to activity limitations, have you doing things that are low-energy and indoors. When the clouds roll in, people are more likely to stay indoors, turn on Netflix or read a book. A relaxing day like this, with little stimulation, will make it easier for you to fall asleep on your millet pillow.
There is a fine line between a soothing, sleep-inducing thunderstorm and one that keeps you up. Sudden, cracking thunder and lightning that seems close enough to hit your bedroom is going to do more harm than good. These storms can cause anxiety and get your adrenaline going, which makes it difficult to sleep. Further, Harvard Health stated that those with Sleep Apnea are more likely to experience a stroke or heart attack due to atmospheric pressure.
If you find an intense thunderstorm disrupts your sleep, you can make some modifications to get a good night’s rest. Begin by blocking out the bright light. If you have blinds or room darkening curtains, close them. If the thunder is too loud, you can close your window and put in earplugs. This likely won’t block out the sound completely but make it quieter so you can enjoy the hypnotic rhythm of the rain without being awoken from a loud boom of thunder. If you are a light sleeper, keep an eye on the weather forecast. You can ensure you get a more peaceful sleep on your millet pillow by taking a natural sleep aid before bed. Our natural sleep aid contains effective, natural ingredients that help you get a night of more restorative sleep.
With stress levels on the rise, so are sleep troubles. As a result, more and more people are having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep each night. “Sometimes just going back to nature in a steady, repetitive, non-threatening sounds can help quiet the active brain,” explains Harris, “rain is predictable, calming, stable and non-threatening.” The natural sound of rolling thunder in the distance and the pitter-patter of rain can help you fall asleep.
Though it would be great if we could, we can’t control the weather. You can’t turn on a thunderstorm the next time you find yourself tossing and turning. Fortunately, there are plenty of thunderstorm alternatives that can replicate the benefits of sleeping during a storm.
A thunderstorm video
On Amazon Prime, you can turn on a 9-hour video called Midnight Thunderstorm. It is the streaming service's most popular ambient sleep video with over 1000 5-star reviews. The screen is dark for the entire film, so you don’t need to worry about the light of the TV disrupting your sleep. It was designed to reduce blue light, which can cause sleep troubles; however, it is also recommended to adjust your TV to the darkest setting. As it plays, you’ll listen to the rain falling softly accompanied by gentle thunder.
An Epic Thunder & Rain Storm on YouTube
This video has over 115 million views! The sound quality is incredible, and it sounds like the rain is falling just outside your window. The thunder rolls quietly in the background. It is the perfect symphony of rain sounds that can help lull you into a deep sleep. It is also 10 hours long and will play continuously throughout the night.
On all major music streaming platforms, you’ll find a large variety of thunderstorm sounds. Look for a playlist to ensure the sounds play throughout the night. If you sleep lightly, you could be awoken when the sound stops, so it is best to look for a playlist with at least 8 hours of thunderstorm sounds. You will also find rain sounds and rain accompanied by peaceful music, depending on your preference.
Noise machines are great if you prefer to keep your phone and TV out of your bedroom. You’ll find hundreds of different types available online, ranging in price and features. Thunderstorms and rain sounds are relatively common settings. You can often set a timer and can control the volume as well.
A sleep app like Calm has plenty of different rain and thunderstorm sounds that you can turn on before bed. Like a noise machine, you can set a timer and control the volume. If you don’t like thunder, you can select a gentle rainstorm, but if you prefer it, you can listen also listen to loud thunder and lightning sounds.
The next time it starts to rain, lay on your millet pillow, embrace the rhythmic sounds and breathe in the sleep-inducing air. The smell, sounds, and sights will lull you into a deep, peaceful sleep. And if there’s no rain is in your forecast anytime soon, try the alternatives listed here to benefit from the sounds of a thunderstorm.