How To Sleep Through A Storm

6 Min Read | By Ellen Conning

Last Modified 25 November 2022   First Added 23 November 2022

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

Many people worry about sleepless nights when thunderstorms are on the way. With high winds and lightning strikes, understanding how to sleep through a storm can really help improve your nights amidst the blustery gales.

Knowing how to set yourself up to weather the storm properly is key when it comes to those dark and stormy nights.

Why can it be hard to sleep through storms?

Beyond the loud sounds and clattering that can come from storms, here are some of the other reasons that turbulent weather makes it tricky to sleep soundly.

Barometric pressure changes during storms

Here in the UK, we don’t tend to focus on the effects of pressure on our bodies. Often, it’s simply a side note in weather reports, used to show when there’ll be a change. This is fair, as cold weather and storms often correlate with low barometric pressure. However, there’s more to pressure changes than just weather. It impacts our bodies too, and in turn impacts our sleep.

When pressure is low and storms are blowing, our bodies react. Whether this is with flares of arthritis from the cold weather making it tricky to move and get comfortable, or lower oxygen saturation making it harder to breathe and, therefore, harder to sleep. There are many reasons why pressure impacts us so badly during a storm.

Anxiety from the wind and rain

One of the worst parts of any thunderstorm is worrying about what it will bring. Will there be floods? Will my windows break, or my computer fry with a power surge? What if the roof gets damaged and there’s a huge repair that needs fixing?

It can be easy to let these fears get a hold of us, especially if we’ve experienced them before or live with an anxiety disorder. Sometimes, prior storms can even give us PTSD, something that many studies have focused on. One looked at the effects of extreme weather events on mental health directly and found that the prevention of these compounding should be a health priority.

If you know you suffer from anxiety or PTSD, it is worth speaking with your doctor about storms and the impact they can have on your day-to-day life, both before and after the effect.

Flashing light from lightning

Another factor is an element of the storm itself. Lightning storms are dramatic, noisy and bright. Those strikes in the night can light up a room if you don’t have blackout curtains, making it harder to get to sleep or even waking us up when they strike.

Black and white photo of a dark-haired woman sleeping in a bundle of white blankets in bed.

Tips for sleeping through a storm

So now we know just why a storm can mean a bad night’s sleep, what can we do to help us rest easier? Preparation is a good part of it. Knowing a storm is coming helps us psychologically prepare for the night to come, as well as physically get things ready to make our homes feel safer through extreme weather. Here’s our top tips to help you get ready.

1. Secure your belongings

High winds are a big part of storms, and worrying about garden furniture or window decorations flying off in the night can really set off anxious thoughts. Take a step to counter this by securing all your outside belongings beforehand.

Moving your outdoors furniture to a shed, and bringing what you can inside your home, will help keep it all out of the storm’s way. If it’s something that can’t be moved, or you don’t have the space for it, you can always secure it down with ropes.

Inside of the home, you can also consider unplugging electronics in case of a surge, and make sure that all your windows are closed tight. The last thing you want is rain inside, after all!

In some ways, simply making sure you’ve done what you can for these things can help alleviate the worries we have in the back of our minds when a storm rolls around.

2. Cancel out the storm with soft sounds and light

Knowing you’ve got a noisy night ahead means you’ve got time to get your bedroom ready. Preparing a playlist of comfy sounds, be they natural or ambient music, can help soften the blowing wind and lashing rain against the windows, as well as brace you for the thunder rumbling through the skies.

Having a playlist set up of comfy sounds is a great option, but before you hit play consider trying to sleep with the storm’s natural sounds. Studies have found that natural sounds help promote relaxation and wellbeing, and many people report that the sounds of a storm are actually relaxing for them.

Many even take this the extra step and listen to 10 hour (or more) long recordings of rolling thunderstorms, or use sites like Rainymood to create their own ambient stormscape of sound. Even if the storm outside is keeping you up, trying these out alongside it could help give you the edge you need to drift off. Focusing on a single sound amidst a storm can help us block out others, after all.

Another element of storms is lightning. As we mentioned before, this can brighten a room in an instant, and if you don’t have a good way of blocking out that light it can really throw you out of that pre-sleep state.

One easy counter is to have a nightlight on. The reason? It helps lower the contrast between a pitch black room and a bright flash of lightning, making it much less irritating when you’re trying to rest. You can also try wearing an eye mask, or even a hoodie, to bed. Both of these can block out light flashes to different degrees, and if you’re the kind of person who can’t sleep with a light on it’s a good alternative.

3. Make a nest of pillows

A simple option, but one that can make a big difference. Storms can make us feel vulnerable, and can have us tossing and turning as we try to be comfy through the din. Adding in extra pillows, or even an extra blanket on top, helps us get the support we need for our backs and necks. It also gives us a swaddling feeling, making us feel protected from the cold and wet outside as the storm rages on.

4. Destress before bed

Finally, and perhaps most importantly – destress before bed. Knowing there’s a storm outside, or on the way, can make us feel nervous and anxious even before we hit the hay. Going to bed in a negative state of mind can seriously impede on our rest, which is why doing something relaxing beforehand is a great idea.

Maintaining clean sleep, even in extreme weather, can really help us maintain a routine and a good night’s rest. Humans are creatures of habit, after all, and we all find comfort in the familiar. You may want to consider spending a little more time in your favourite relaxing activity though, just to counter the storm’s effects.

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