How Changes in Weather Affect Your Quality of Sleep

Dr. Craig Hudson, MD | December 14, 2016

Do your sleep patterns change with the weather? You are not alone! We humans are delicate creatures who require exactly the right conditions to get a good night’s rest. To gain a better understanding of how weather can affect your quality of sleep, let us look at the three most common weather-related factors that have the biggest influence:

1. Dwindling Daylight and Darker Days

As the winter months quickly approach, the impact of seasonal effects may be on your mind. For many people, the longer nights combined with cloudy skies is a recipe for altered sleep rhythms.

The sun is our primary source of vitamin D. With limited exposure to the sun, the body’s exposure to the all-important vitamin D is also limited. As we touched on in previous posts, vitamin D aids in the production of serotonin, so on darker days, serotonin levels are much lower than usual, which means feelings of fatigue are likely to be quite high.

Also, dark and snowy days mean the melatonin production in the body is triggered much earlier in the day. This leads to daytime drowsiness and a lower quality of sleep overall. To keep your body clock working at a healthier rhythm, try to get in at least an hour of outdoor time per day. Or, arrange to spend your days near a window, and be sure to draw the blinds.

2. Too Hot, Too Cold, Just Right

Believe it or not, there is actually a goldilocks zone in terms of temperature for sleep. Whether it is a heat wave in the dead of summer or an arctic cold front that is passing through in the winter, extreme temperatures can have a profound effect on your quality of sleep. Studies show the ideal temperature for sleep hovers at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. For those who love to bundle up in blankets, 60.8 degrees is best. If possible, try experimenting with temperatures in this range to find the one that is just right.

3. Stormy Weather Banging on Your Windows

Rain, wind, sleet and thunder can keep you staring at the ceiling until the racket dies down. When it comes to stormy weather, noise and anxiety are a two of the most commonly reported issues.

Short of controlling the weather, there is very little you can do quiet a storm, but you can dampen the sound. If you prefer complete silence, try ear plugs. If not, a white noise machine app or even soothing music might be more effective.

When the weather gets you down (or keeps you up), restful sleep can be elusive. Know that many people who struggle with this issue have found effective ways to restore their sleep quality, which means you can too!