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Can Weather Changes Affect Your Sleep?

Changes in weather can impact the quality of your sleep, and how much  you’re getting.  This is because these dramatic weather changes leave us feeling lethargic, irritated, hot and headachy and this can in turn leave for a disrupted and uncomfortable sleep. You may think that experiencing lethargy should mean that we sleep better as we are more tired, but actually it has the opposite effect, and often if we feel lethargic during the day we may find that our sleep at night is affected. This is also because if a person is taking more time to relax or taking naps during the day because of the weather, this will also affect their sleep as they won’t feel  tired or feel they need to rest.

This can also be known as “weather whiplash”, which is a term that can be used to describe the physical and mental symptoms we experience when the weather is quickly and drastically changing, which can also impact our sleep. When the weather changes from full sun, to clouds and rain it can affect not only our mood but also make us feel lethargic and exhausted. High levels of humidity brought on from rainy weather makes the temperature feel warmer than it actually is, and if the sun has also been out this quick and sharp level of change can leave our body confused which leaves us feeling tired, agitated and lethargic. Not only this, we also experience “weather headaches” which are medically known as barometric pressure headaches. 

People who suffer with headaches regularly may find that when the weather changes these headaches increase or become more severe. Gloomy, grey skies, high humidity and temperatures which rise suddenly as well as reoccurring storms can often bring on head pain and pressure. This is because the pressure changes that causes this gloomy weather can trigger both chemical and electrical changes in the brain which then aggravates the nerves and leads to headaches. 

These types of headache are known as a barometric pressure headache and occur after there is a drop in barometric pressure. They are similar to a normal headache or migraine however you may experience other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting as well as increased sensitivity to light. You may also feel generally lethargic, tired and unmotivated which is likely to further promote headaches, a foggy mind and dull head and ear pain. 

Of course there is not much you can do about the change in weather, but there are a few things you can do to help ease symptoms. I would advise drinking plenty of water throughout the day when the weather starts to change to keep hydration levels up, taking frequent breaks from your phone or computer screen to prevent eye strain and further sensitivity, improved posture is important, if you’re working at a desk try to sit up straight and take regular breaks to walk around, take a hot bath or shower to try and relax tense muscles, apply a heating pad or ice pack to your head for 5 minutes several times a day. 

You can also massage your head which may be able to relieve any pressure and tensions, concentrating on the temples. Try and get outside for fresh air at least once a day, if you are experiencing eye sensitivity you can always wear dark sunglasses. General exercise should help to subside any pain and pressure. Migraine medication is also an option if you find yourself experiencing these headaches more frequently. You should visit your GP if you are experiencing headaches consistently and severely and if they are interfering with your daily life. 

Text written by

Parvinder Sagoo, Pharmacist and Health Adviser for Simply Meds Online