Have you never felt more tired not sleeping in your bed? It is very likely that if you remember a time when you did not sleep in the comfort of your home, you realize that you had a poor sleep or that you woke up more tired. This has an explanation based on the activity of the brain’s hemispheres. Until now, it was known that some animals were endowed with a defense mechanism by which they could sleep while part of their brain remained alert. However, humans could also have this ability. This is what happens to your brain when you sleep away from home.
Table of Contents
The brain at night
Many of us think of sleep as the period when our body, including the brain, rests. The truth is that when we sleep, our brain does not rest or part of it. A study carried out by Harvard University revealed that the chemicals that provide energy to the cells remain stable during the day but increase during a specific moment of sleep when we sleep. This implies that instead of resting, the brain works to return to its standard capacity, providing an energy boost at the beginning of this process. Consequently, it was concluded that, although our body rests – muscles, joints, etc. – part of the brain activity is maintained using more energy.
The brain when we sleep away from home
If you have ever slept in someone else’s house or a hotel room the next day, you likely felt more tired. The truth is that you are not the only one who has had this feeling. An investigation published in the journal Current Biology revealed a curious fact called the “first-night effect”(EFN) by neuroscientists. According to this research, EFN is the neurological equivalent of sleeping with one eye open. In other words, it became known that people can activate the left hemisphere of the brain when we sleep in places that are not familiar or in which we do not feel comfortable. For this reason, people who are used to traveling or sleeping away from home frequently can have a less restful sleep when a part of the brain is awake.
The researchers confirmed these data by observing the sleep of a group of volunteers. During this process, brain activity was measured during the NREM3 stage, characterized by a slow sleep wave. This stage is the last that takes place during our break. During this, our body is asleep, and it is when it is most difficult to wake up. However, those who sleep outside the home can see this stage of sleep altered by remaining active in the left hemisphere of the brain. This causes the person to feel more tired the next day. Why? It is the period of sleep in which we recover more energy, and if it is altered, our battery is not fully charged.
But this is not all; as we have explained, the brain hemisphere that remains alert is left, but why? The researchers found that the volunteers had increased activity in the left hemisphere over the right in the first experiment. Also, this happened on the first night that the individual slept away from home. This fact confirmed that the left hemisphere remained alert when being in an unfamiliar environment. However, the same did not happen when the same volunteers slept their second consecutive night in the same place. The differences in the activity of both hemispheres disappeared, and both rested usually. This is what happens in our brain when we sleep away from home and one of the reasons why you can feel tired after the first night. An excellent way to improve sleep quality is to use medicinal plants to sleep.
Why does this happen
The researchers wondered why the left hemisphere stayed awake rather than the right. The explanation could be found in the fact that the neural connections between the part where sleep occurs and the rest of the brain are more vital in the left hemisphere. For this reason, it is more helpful than this hemisphere that remains awake during the first day of sleep in a strange place since being the most powerful connection, they will generate faster responses to stimuli perceived during sleep.
This process has to link regardless of whether we sleep on a comfortable mattress and in a pleasant place; the first night, you restless. It is unnecessary to feel uncomfortable where you sleep for this process to occur in the brain. However, some scientists suggested that these effects could be reduced by traveling with one’s pillow.
We are not the only ones.
This ability to stay partially awake is not unique to humans. This nocturnal activity of the left hemisphere to visit sharp results from an evolutionary process. Hundreds of years ago, sleeping in an unfamiliar environment posed a threat, which disappears when we sleep in a hotel or at an acquaintance’s house. Many animals are endowed with this defensive mechanism to remain alert to possible dangers. Dolphins, for example, rest by alternating each part of their brain, which means that the right hemisphere sleeps first while the left one rests, and vice versa.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to This is what happens to your brain when you sleep away from home, we recommend that you enter our Wellbeing category .
I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.