What Your Vacation Does to Your Sleep

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.


  • The latest from Adrien
Adrien founded Fitness on the Run in 2004 out of her home. Today, “FOR” is home to more than 250 clients, 11 instructors, and hundreds of inspirational success stories. She is passionate about helping others view their fitness as a journey, not a quick fix. Adrien’s recipe for success has evolved from a rigid training plan of a 4-5 workouts per week. Now, she believes the most important ingredient is making small changes for big results — even if its only five minutes a day. She works daily to help clients understand the three most vital component of a effective fitness program are consistency, sustainability, and fun. Adrien believes we all benefit from being curious about our bodies and our health and that change is always within reach. She lives a clean lifestyle, insists on getting sufficient quality sleep, and finds ways to manage her stress, typically through dancing with her kids nightly.

Fitness on the Run is Fitness for Life. Combining a focus on strong bodies and strong minds with a robust wellness education program and unparalleled personalized attention, we provide fitness for health, longevity and functionality.


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