Can’t Sleep In A Strange Bed?  It’s All In Your Brain

When you travel, do you have a hard time going to sleep that first night?   Can’t wait to get back home to your own bed?   There’s a good reason for it.

“When you sleep in a new place for the first time, a part of one side of the brain seems to stay awake for surveillance purposes, so you could wake up faster if necessary,” said senior study author Yuka Sasaki of Brown University.

Reuters Health reports that a new study indicates one half of the brain remains on high alert during the first night of sleep in a new space.

Over the course of three experiments on 35 young, healthy volunteers, researchers measured brain activity during two consecutive nights of slumber. They consistently found that part of the left side of the brain remained more active than the right side only on the first night, specifically during a deep sleep phase known as slow-wave sleep.

The way the participants responded indicates the potential for the brain to be on high alert for danger during the first night in a new setting.

Researchers believe this might help explain sleep disorders like insomnia, which is caused by “chronic hypervigilance” in many patients.

This is bad news for business travelers who have to make brief over-night trips, but for extended stays, you can “rest easy,” knowing only the first night will be the most restless.


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