What happens to your brain in a new environment?

According to a study published in the journal, Current Biology, only about half your brain goes into deep sleep when you are trying try to go to bed in a new location that’s not as comfortable as your own bed. Researchers at Brown University studied the brain wave patterns of 35 students, finding that their slow-wave activity, which occurs when the brain has entered deep sleep, was significantly higher in the right hemisphere during the first night of the study. But after the first night, that difference tapered out, leading researchers to conclude that the brain adjusted after it became familiar with the sleep setting.

The first night in a new place can be rough for a person but sleep researchers discovered the “first-night effect” decades ago, when they began studying people in sleep labs. The first night in a lab, a person’s sleep is usually so bad that researchers simply toss out any data they collect.

The team measured something called slow-wave activity, which appears during deep sleep. And they found that during a student’s first night in the lab, slow wave activity was greater in certain areas of the right hemisphere than in the corresponding areas of the left hemisphere. To confirm that the left side of the brain really was more alert, the team did two other experiments. First, they had the sleeping students listen to a repeated standard tone followed by a single tone of a different pitch.

When someone is awake or sleeping lightly, the brain responds to this “deviant tone.” And the students’ brains did respond — but only on the left side. Then the researchers played a sound loud enough to wake someone who was sleeping lightly. They found that students woke up faster when the sound was played into the right ear, which is connected to the left side of the brain.

Research and learning about how the brain responds in different environments is interesting, but what is really valuable is getting a good night’s rest. Visit our site to learn more about how a Craftmatic® Adjustable bed may help you get more quality sleep.


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