Howling winds, blistering rain, frightening lightning, and roaring thunder are enough to keep anyone awake at night. If you have watched slightly too many horror movies or perhaps live alone, you could find yourself clutching your comforter all the way to your chin as the stormy weather fills the air.
No matter how often or how little you have to endure thunderstorms where you live, we have the perfect guide to get you through. This list of tips below will teach you how to be better prepared and how to stay calm during a thunderstorm for a better nights sleep. These tips include:
- Changing and preparing your sleeping environment
- Listening to distracting audio
- Securing your home
- Having a light distraction before bed
Hopefully, this guide can help you battle any anxiety or annoyance you feel when a thunderstorm rolls into your area – leaving you able to rest, even if the weather is wide awake.
1. Checking the Forecast
It may sound obvious, but a lot of us can get caught off guard by not checking the weather forecast and suddenly being confronted with a raging thunderstorm, seemingly out of nowhere. You’ll want to avoid having a thunderstorm come as a surprise if you want any chance of best preparing for one. You may already know the regular pattern of thunderstorms for your area, but if you don’t, there are plenty of ways you can stay on top of it.
Thunderstorms and hurricanes can be easily predicted compared to tornados, which means you should have enough time to anticipate the arrival of one. You can check your daily or weekly forecast for your area usually through a weather app on your phone – which is available on most Apple devices. You can also simply google the weather in your area on Google, which will present you with an up to date forecast for the next seven days or so. You can also alternatively check official local and government and meteorological websites. If you find yourself without the internet, you can find printed handouts in local stores, or watch the weather broadcast on a news station.
2. Securing Your Home
A thunderstorm can be anxiety-inducing if you’re worried about how it may affect your home. This is why it’s best to secure your home as much as possible to avoid feeling a sense of dread in the middle of the night. To do so, you can make a checklist of things to look at before going to bed, such as:
- Doors and windows: These should be shut tightly and all locked if possible.
- Cars and vehicles: If you own a car or other types of vehicles, it’s best to put them in a secure garage for the night – you won’t want to wake up to a rouge tree laying on the roof of your car.
- Outdoor furniture: Chairs and other objects can be easily blown away. Loose items in your garden, front lawn, or on a window ledge should be brought inside to avoid this.
- Gutters: To avoid the midnight panic of flooding, make sure your gutters are clean. This will prevent any overflow and distractions flooding in your home.
3. Making Your Bedroom a Welcoming Environment
If the weather outside is outright frightful, you’ll want your bedroom to be the complete opposite. Your room should be a tranquil space where you can get the rest you deserve away from the thunderstorm. To achieve this, you can try gathering calming objects, such as fluffy pillows, low lighting – perhaps fairy lights – and scented candles into your room. Candles and other scented objects can especially be useful. We recommend trying the following scented tricks in your bedroom to reduce any anxiety you may be feeling:
- Citrus candles: The smell of rain may be unpleasant to you if it reminds you of the storm outside, so try to combat this by lighting a candle with the complete opposite scent. Orange or lemon-scented candles can help clear your mind and fill your room with the smell of a bright summer’s day.
- Lavender essential oil: Lavender is long upheld as the miracle essential oil when it comes to getting better rest. Researchers at Wesleyan University in Connecticut actually found that lavender increased slow-wave sleep, which is integral for slowing heartbeat and relaxing muscles. Subjects in the study also slept more soundly with lavender and reportedly woke up feeling more energetic the next morning. You can use lavender oil in a diffuser which occasionally sprays your bedroom with the aroma. Alternatively, you can create your own spray and spritz your bed sheets and pillows with the calming scent.
- DIY your own: We all have our own preferences when it comes to smells. Perhaps you love the smell of fresh flowers or pumpkin pie – whatever the scent, choose your most comforting and welcoming one and let it fill your room. Since scents bypass the thalamus and go straight to the brain’s smell center, known as the olfactory bulb – which is directly connected to the amygdala and hippocampus – the smell of something can immediately trigger a detailed memory or even intense emotions. This is according to curiosity.com – so why not try to choose a scent which invokes positive or happy memories as a great distraction and relaxation tool from the storm.
4. Getting Your Pets Ready
If you have pets at home, you probably aren’t the only one feeling anxious about the storm ahead. It can be a scared pet’s worst nightmare as they whine, bark, or become restless throughout the night. Not only is it distressing to watch, but it can also keep you awake. Luckily, there is plenty you can do to help your pet prepare for the storm ahead. Start by offering them a safe place to sleep inside. You can bring them into your bedroom for added comfort, or put them in a soundproof room with their own comfy bed. You should also try to distract your pet in the same way you would distract yourself – try playing a small game of fetch, keeping a radio or television on, and giving them toys to play with.
If the pet in question you’re trying to keep calm is a dog, you can try using calming remedies, such as dog appeasing pheromones. If you are particularly concerned, you should visit your veterinarian and discuss how to best prepare for the storm for your particular pet.
Silencing the Noise
Arguably one of the worst aspects of a thunderstorm is the noise. The loud and startling crashing of thunder outside can keep you awake for hours. This is why you should find the most comfortable and practical ways to keep the noise at bay as you sleep. Luckily, we’ve found the best selection for you already.
5. Wearing Earphones
Earphones come in a range of sizes and prices now, making them more accessible than ever. Before a loud thunderstorm approaches, we recommend searching for a pair of earphones or headphones based on your preferences and find a pair you could comfortably sleep in – preferably, wireless earphones would be best for night-time, as you’ll want to avoid getting tangled up in the wires late at night.
With your earphones in, you can listen to a variety of things to keep the noise of the thunderstorm at bay. We recommend the following:
- A bedtime audiobook: Do you remember falling asleep to the soothing sounds of your parent’s voice as they read you a bedtime fairy time? If so, a thunderstorm is a perfect time to revisit that memory to help you drift off. Try picking a story or book you already recognize or know – this way, you won’t be too interested to stay awake.
- A (boring) podcast: To be used simply as a distraction and sound drowning technique, try choosing a podcast you wouldn’t usually listen to on a topic you don’t particularly have any interest in. It sounds incredibly boring – but it’s meant to be! Simply listening to voices having a discussion, perhaps about something mundane or something you don’t understand, can help take your mind off the storm as you drift off to sleep.
- ASMR: This is practically the king of sleepy audio. If you haven’t heard of it before, ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. Not everyone has this ‘response’ – but those who do claim that it gives them relaxing ‘brain tingles’ and helps them get to sleep much quicker. ASMR consists of whispering, brushing, crinkling, and other strange yet relaxing noises. ASMR content can be found on YouTube completely free – an added bonus!
6. Changing Which Room You Sleep in
Despite sleeping there most nights, your bedroom may not be the best place to sleep during a thunderstorm. Your bedroom window may give you a direct viewing of the thunderstorm – which can be distressing if you’re afraid. To avoid this, as well as hearing the noises directly through your window, try moving to a room in the middle of your home, rather than one on the outer edges. The further you are from windows, the less likely you are to hear the storm. You could also try moving downward in the house, such as in a basement – providing it isn’t too cold. Basements tend to be more soundproof than the rest of a home, meaning you shouldn’t be able to hear the storm quite as loudly.
7. Using a Fan to Block Out the Noise
If you’re anything like me then you constantly use a fan to block out excess noise while sleeping, especially if you live with noisy neighbors, near a busy intersection, or just generally in an area with a lot of noise. Sleeping with a fan can be a great option during a thunderstorm as well. I’ve personally used a box fan for the past 10 years – and have never woken up to a thunderstorm once during that time!
Calming Your Nerves
8. Have Someone to Sleep With
Suffering from thunderstorm anxiety can make you feel pretty lonely – but this needn’t be the case. Having someone sleeping beside you, or simply in the same room as you, can help you feel less worried and inevitably sleep much better. If you have a partner, make sure you can share a bed for the night and comfort one and other. It’s a good idea to tell your partner you’re worried about the storm ahead so they can do their best to relax you.
If you don’t currently have a partner, ask a close friend or relative for a sleepover. Having someone over – or perhaps going to someone else’s home – could help you relax as you feel less alone and distracted by the company. Alternatively, if you already have a roommate, you can decide to bring your mattresses into the same room.
9. Try A Breathing Exercise
Breathing exercises are great for combating anxiety and relaxing you to sleep, making it especially good to attempt during a thunderstorm. We recommend the easy and popular 4-7-8 exercise. Dr. Andrew Weil, a Harvard trained medical doctor, and advocate of holistic breathing practices to combat stress, anxiety, and insomnia, is the man behind the exercise. Weil’s technique is simple and can be practiced anywhere at any time. Weil explains how you should try it out: “Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.” To carry out the technique, follow the steps below:
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a ‘whoosh’ sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale through your nose while mentally counting to four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Completely exhale through your mouth, making another ‘whoosh’ sound to a count of eight.
- Inhale again in one breath and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
10. A Distraction Before Bed
As mentioned throughout this article, having a distraction is the perfect way to calm your nerves during a thunderstorm. Having a light-hearted distraction just before bed can ease your mind into a different task as you prepare for sleep. Try grabbing a book – preferably not a horror novel – and read a few chapters before bed. We recommend a comedy or perhaps rom-com book to distract you from the nightmarish weather.
You can also try writing something down – maybe just for fun, such as a short story, or simply making a diary entry of your day. You can also try other distracting techniques such as listing your favorite movies or preparing a shopping list for the next day. Alternatively, you can play a video game. However, just like your choice of book, try not to make it bloody and scary. Free world games can be the best option during this particular time, as they will allow you to choose your own adventure and provide a light-hearted distraction.
11. Speak To A Medical Professional
If you find that your fear and inability to sleep during a thunderstorm is rather extreme and relentless, you may be suffering from astraphobia – the fear of thunder and lightning. If you have a bad physical reaction to thunderstorms, such as wanting to curl up into a ball, avoid events, or hide in a locked room: you may have astraphobia. Treatments for the phobia include CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), which may involve writing a journal about your fear. Alternatives include anti-anxiety medications, stress management techniques, and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), which is designed to help people process and regulate their emotions while reducing anxiety.
Hopefully, with the tips and advice above you can feel better prepared and at ease once a thunderstorm approaches your area. Even if the thunder and lightning are very frightening, we’re sure you’ll be back to sweet dreams in no time.