The good news is scientists have found we sleep much better at home than away. And, now they know why…
When we travel, or sleep in a bed other than our own, our brains go into “survival” mode, only turning half off with one hemisphere remaining more awake than the other.
Scientists at Brown University knew that the FNE, or “First Night Effect,” was disturbing to sleep. Now they know that that jolting awake, which you may not even remember, is due to the left half of your brain staying more active than the other so it can respond to barking dogs or a creaking door.
Co-author of the study Yuka Sasaki says whales and dolphins are vulnerable when sleeping so they doze with only half of their brain to avoid getting caught. “Our brains may have miniature systems of what whales and dolphins have,” says Sasaki.
Scientists are studying to find ways to help those who travel a lot, saying human brains are very flexible. So, it’s possible that people who have to sleep in new places often learn to turn this night surveillance off. Dr. Sasaki says, “People who often are in new places may not necessarily have poor sleep on a regular basis.”
For those of you interested in vacationing, attending your favorite annual conference, or leading your work team on a new adventure out of town, what do the experts recommend to avoid FNE?
1) Bring your own pillow when traveling.
2) Stay in hotels with similar accommodations to your own bedroom at home.
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