Sleep is one of the most vital elements to human life, and yet so many of us have trouble getting it. Even though the body needs it to the extent that it can’t function without it, sleep can still come with great difficulty to a great many people. In fact, it is estimated that one in four people will experience mild insomnia at one point or another, while one in ten will suffer from chronic sleeplessness.
And if you are like most people, you have your certain sleeping patterns. You may be unable to fall asleep on your back, or maybe you just can’t seem to sleep if someone is talking in the next room. It’s only natural to have your pet peeves when it comes to sleep.
But there seems to be one thing that is common across all sleeping patterns, at least according to a new study from the Brown University in Rhode Island. And that is that no matter what sleep patterns you may have regularly, you can’t sleep well in a new place. And they are here to tell us why.
Led by corresponding author Yuka Sakaki, a research associate professor of cognitive linguistic and psychological sciences at the Brown University, the study looked a relatively small sample of 35 individuals. The test took place during a couple of nights spread out a week apart.
The study participants had to sleep in a sleep lab for two nights, as the team monitored their brain activity and played low-intensity noises into their ears in order to determine which areas of the brain activate and what that represents. It turns out that we’re all programmed to be slightly paranoid of new sleeping locations.
One particular network in the left hemisphere of the brain was activated across all the participants, showing greater activity than anything in the right hemisphere. This process took place during the phase of deep sleep known as slow-wave sleep.
This only happened on the first night, as in the second night nothing seemed to activate that particular area of the brain. Not even playing sounds in the participants’ right ears, something that made the participants wake up or start being alert during the first night, seemed to have any effect during the second.
Of course, there is far more to study if the researchers want to understand how the entire process works, particularly since the situation doesn’t really apply to everybody. Sure, it applied to all the participants, but this is because they were all screened to fit a certain profile. More sleep tests are soon to come.
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