How Does Weather Affect Sleep?

Have you ever noticed that a sweltering summer night or a blustery winter storm can completely throw off your sleep? It’s not just you. The weather outside can have a significant impact on your slumber, and understanding this connection can help you adapt and enjoy healthy sleep habits, no matter what’s happening outside your window.

The Impact of Temperature

Our body’s internal temperature needs to drop slightly to initiate sleep, which is why you might find it harder to nod off on hot nights. Conversely, being too cold can also prevent relaxation, as your body works to maintain warmth instead of settling into sleep mode.

Sleeping in Cold Weather

While a cooler room can generally promote better sleep, extremely cold weather can be disruptive. If you’re shivering under the covers, your chances of a peaceful night are slim. Plus, colder weather can lead to dry air, which may irritate the respiratory system and exacerbate snoring or sleep apnea. When the weather cools, make sure you’re stocked on CPAP supplies.

Sleeping in Hot Weather

The heat can be more challenging than sleeping in cold weather. When it’s hot, your body struggles to reach that optimal sleep-inducing temperature, resulting in restlessness, increased wakefulness, and even insomnia. An overly warm sleeping environment can also lead to less restorative sleep, as it can reduce the amount of slow-wave (deep) sleep and REM sleep you experience.

The Impact of Pressure Changes

Barometric pressure — the weight of the atmosphere that surrounds us — fluctuates with different weather patterns. Some people may be sensitive to these changes; they can trigger joint pain or headaches, which may, in turn, affect sleep quality. Low pressure is often associated with cloudy, rainy or stormy weather and can lead to feelings of discomfort or restlessness at bedtime.

Likewise, humidity extremes can exacerbate sleep problems. High humidity can make the air feel heavy and breathing feel more laborious, which may lead to a night of tossing and turning. Low humidity, which often accompanies colder weather, can dry out your nasal passages and throat.

The Impact of Sun and Storms 

The natural light from the sun helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. Cloudy days and winter time limit our exposure to sunlight, tricking our bodies into producing more melatonin which leads to feeling drowsy at times when we should be alert. Conversely, when bedtime rolls around, you might find that the extra melatonin produced during the day makes it harder to fall asleep at night.

Storms bring a double whammy to sleep disruption. In addition to barometric pressure changes, the decrease in natural light can mess with our internal clocks, while the noise and stress of a storm can keep us awake. Thunder claps and lightning flashes are certainly effective alarm clocks. 

Adapting for Better Sleep

Knowing that weather affects your sleep means you can take steps to mitigate its impact. Here are a few quick tips:

    • Regulate Temperature: Use fans or air conditioning in hot weather, and add extra blankets or consider a heated mattress pad when it’s cold.
    • Block Out Light: Invest in blackout curtains to keep your bedroom dark, especially during the longer days of summer.
    • Manage Humidity: A humidifier can add moisture to dry air, while a dehumidifier can help when it’s muggy.
    • Embrace White Noise: A fan or white noise machine can drown out storm sounds and provide a consistent auditory backdrop for sleep.
  • Stay Stocked with Sleep Supplies: Make sure your CPAP supplies, eye masks and any medication you’re prescribed are stocked each season.

Forecast Better Sleep Today

By tuning into the ways the weather influences your sleep, you can create an environment that’s conducive to a good night’s rest all year round. But if you’re struggling with larger sleep issues, it’s time to see a specialist. 

Whitney Sleep is a family-owned sleep center, specializing in identifying and treating a variety of sleep disorders, as well as providing CPAP and other sleep support supplies. Contact us today to start your path to better sleep.