Why Do We Sleep Better When It’s Raining?

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Bianca Voss With the school year in full swing, many students are beginning to lose their beloved extra hours of sleep to their homework and extracurriculars. Catching up on sleep during the fall months can be tough, but with the recent rainy weather we’ve been having, many students attribute their better sleeping habits to the rain. So, does rain actually help people sleep? According to Orfeu Buxton, a professor of biobehavioral health at Pennsylvania State University, our brains process the sounds we hear as either threats or non-threats. We have trouble sleeping through sounds such as alarms or screams because our brains correlate such sounds with threatening situations. In contrast, Buxton explains that “slow whooshing noises,” such as rain, “are the sounds of non-threats, which is why they work to calm people.” The type of noises we hear when we sleep affect whether we wake up or not rather than the volume of such noises. Senior Gabi Finch attributes her better sleep with rain because “it’s comforting,” evidence of the rain’s acoustic ability to soothe many people. Though the sound of rain can differ in volume, it has quiet intervals followed by crescendos which rise and fall to soothe the listener. A scream or alarm is often a harsh sound that reaches its highest pitch almost instantly. The difference in acoustics is what either supports or hinders one’s sleeping. As humans, we are biologically wired to respond to noises that determine non-threatening or threatening situations. Because of its non-threatening nature, rain supports your sleep! So, turn up your rain sound machines and get your full eight hours of sleep to close you’re your first quarter. ]]>