*Nothing in this article constitutes medical advice. Seek the guidance of a physician if you have any questions.*
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of everyone’s lives. It’s one of many biological requirements that all humans have, making it one of the few needs in life that everyone shares. At some point everyone needs to lay down and rest. Though many sometimes spend too much time avoiding it or have issues getting as much as they need, which can affect their health. Considering that we spend around ⅓ of our lives asleep, it’s not surprising that we spend a great deal of time and money figuring out the best and most comfortable ways to sleep. Humans are picky, finicky creatures of habit. When we experience something new, or different, it often affects our lives in unforeseeable ways.
Many studies have been undertaken to ascertain why exactly we find it harder to sleep in a new place. The issue is so common that it even has a name: first night effect. Quite the clever name, implying that the “first night” in a new place will always have an effect on one’s sleep. The crux of the matter is why exactly is that happening to us, and is there anything we can do to stop that feeling?
Before we put those restless hotel nights to “bed” for the last time, let’s first break down what really happens when trying to sleep in a new location and why your body isn’t having the best time of it.
New Feelings In A New Environment
Studies by massive organizations and scientific bodies, including Brown University, have been undertaken to discover the truth about “first night effect”. As a commonality between countless people around the world, it’s an issue that may seem trivial and simple, but could be leading to many restless and sleepless nights. One such study discovered that while the Right side of the brain was able to attain a peaceful rest in a new space, the Left side of the brain was typically more active and “awake” than it otherwise would be in a familiar location.
Over the last few years, scientific studies and researchers have begun to completely disregard a subject’s first night sleep in a new facility or lab simply because of the first night effect. That’s because the initial findings from the patient or research assistant’s first night of sleep is so unreliable that most scientists won’t even record the data. That can’t be fun for those that have to spend an extra night sleeping in a research facility, but it does help to validate the widely-regarded effects of the first night effect.
Another truth is that scientists aren’t completely sure why that’s happening. The Left side of the brain is more receptive to sound and other senses, so many surmise that the brain is simply remaining more alert on instinct. It’s incredibly common for certain animals to sleep lightly so they can easily awaken at the sound of a predator, so it’s logical that some remnant of that instinct remains in us.
Tips and Tricks To Settle You Into Sleep!
The unfortunate truth is that not only are humans picky and choosy by nature, but it seems our instincts are too! Whether it’s because of personal preferences or human instinct taking hold, we’ve come to the conclusion that sleeping in a new place has been somewhat scientifically-proven to be difficult. So what now? How exactly are we going to make it easier to take long trips, visit relatives, or to visit that other corporate office on the other side of the country? As of right now there is no “cure” for this condition. It’s simply a problem that we all deal with or encounter on the occasional basis. But there are some easy ways to combat this feeling!
Bring Your Own Pillow or Pillowcase
One of the more obvious reasons that humans aren’t comfortable sleeping in new environments is the bed, of course! Having a new bed, sets of pillows and sheets underneath you can be more than enough to leave you unsettled and awake. That’s why the simplest, and possibly most effective, way to familiarize yourself with a new sleeping location is to bring your own pillow or pillowcase. The familiar feeling and smell will remind you of home and help to settle you in your new surroundings.
Maintain A Nightly Routine, Even On Trips
Everyone’s got one, no matter how simple it is! Nightly routines might consist of: throwing on pajamas, drinking a glass of water and hitting the hay. Or it could start with brushing your teeth, laying out your clothes for the next day then wrapping yourself up in bed! Routines are easy ways to train your brain, and in this case you’re training it to sleep! Having a nightly, repetitive routine lets your brain know when it’s time for bedtime, so using the same system while on vacation is only going to do the same!
White and Ambient Noise Machines Can Help Quiet Annoying Sounds
When you’ve spent your life living in the suburbs, suddenly hearing the never-ending “city noise” can be just as upsetting as a new bed. Silence is one of the most important requirements for sleep, and new noises in a new area aren’t doing your brain any favors! To help yourself get situated to a new location, it might be easier to purchase a White Noise or Ambient Noise machine. These devices play sounds, ranging from peaceful rainforests to quiet static, that help to silence other bothersome noises so you can get a quiet night of sleep. While this could seem like a costly option, most machines actually cost less than a night’s sleep at any hotel. If it helps you to get good rest in an unfamiliar location then the cost is more than worth it.
The Key To Relaxing Rest
Humans are difficult creatures of habit. Whether you think you’re less picky or choosy than most people, you’re still used to countless things in your life that help to provide some level of comfort. One of the most important aspects of your life to be picky about is your sleeping routine. Whether you’re on the road or in your home, get the comfort and rest that you need.
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