Missed slumber in unfamiliar surroundings is a common experience, often known as the 'first-night effect.' Delve into the science of why you find it hard to sleep away from home and how to tackle it with our comprehensive guide on implementing effective strategies.
Why Do We Struggle to Sleep in Unfamiliar Settings?
Associated with a survival instinct, our brains remain more alert when we sleep in an unfamiliar environment which can lead to disrupted sleep patterns. This term, 'first-night effect,' has been studied extensively in sleep science. Findings suggest it may be linked to our ancestors who needed to stay alert for potential dangers while sleeping in unfamiliar territory.
The Half-Brain Phenomenon
One fascinating observation is the 'half-brain' sleep phenomenon, where one brain hemisphere stays more alert when sleeping in new environments. This phenomenon is typically noted in the first night spent in a new setting, which might explain why you don't sleep well on your first night away from home.
Other Factors Affecting Sleep Away From Home
Environmental changes, such as different bed comfort, noise levels, temperature, and light exposure, are some potential factors that make it difficult to sleep away from home. Emotional factors, like anxiety or excitement about the trip, can also hamper sleep quality.
How to Improve Sleep Quality When Away From Home
There are several strategies you can implement to combat the 'first-night effect' and achieve better sleep away from home.
Establish a Sleep-friendly Environment
Arranging the room to mimic your home sleeping environment can be beneficial. You can control elements like lighting, noise, and temperature. Earplugs, sleep masks, and portable fans can come in handy.
Recreate Bedtime Routine
Sticking to your normal bedtime routine can signal your body itâs time to sleep, inducing a good night's sleep.
Use Relaxation Techniques
Practice relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, or meditation to help your body and mind relax, easing you into sleep.
Limit Screen Time Before Bed
Blue light emitted by phone or laptop screens can disrupt your body's natural sleep-wake cycle. Try to go screen-free for at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Physical activity during the day can help you fall asleep more quickly and improve sleep quality. Just ensure not to exercise too close to bedtime as this can have the opposite effect.
While the phenomenon of struggling to sleep away from home is common, with understanding and implementation of these strategies, you can overcome this challenge and rest better when traveling.