Study: Sleeping in a new place keeps half the brain on alert

Study: Sleeping In A New Place Keeps Half The Brain On Alert

Researchers now have a better understanding of why sleeping in a different place often makes people feel groggy afterwards, notes Popular Science.

According to a study published in May, it's likely because one hemisphere of the brain acts as a "night watch to monitor unfamiliar surroundings during sleep."

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The general phenomenon, called the "first night effect," has long been known to scientists who observed the abnormal brain pattern in participants of sleep experiments, notes Forbes.

In order to determine why this happens, researchers at Brown University analyzed the brains of 35 people during two nights of sleep which were a week apart.

The team found that one of the hemispheres—the left side for most people—tended to show a much higher level of activity than the other despite still being somewhat asleep.

RELATED: How you can sleep better

Sleep Tips
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Sleep Tips


The scent of lavender is known to be very relaxing and can help you get to sleep at night. 

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Shut off the screens

Avoid being on your computer, phone or e-reader before going to sleep. Studies have shown the use of these items before bed can decrease the quality of your sleep.

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Melatonin supplements 

Taking sleeping pills sounds scary to many people, but melatonin supplements are like a sleep vitamin, giving you a little extra of the naturally produced hormone. 

(photo credit: Ekspansio)

Stick to a schedule

Going to sleep and waking at the same time every day helps your natural sleep/wake cycle. You sleep much better when you go to bed when actually drowsy and wake naturally at the same time each day. 

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Regular exercise, even as little as 20 mins a day can help you sleep better at night. 

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Skip the afternoon nap

Taking a nap during the day can exasperate insomnia for many people. 

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This more alert half even detected external stimuli like a beeping sound which, according to the study, "caused more arousals and faster behavioral responses...."

The paper then goes on to note that "none of these asymmetries were evident during subsequent sleep sessions."

Despite their findings, the researchers still don't know "...why the brain only maintains an alert state in just one hemisphere – whether it's always the left or in alternation with the right."

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