Science Explains Why We Sleep Badly When We’re Not In Our Own Bed

This also explains why the sound of a car door closing in the middle of the night scares us shitless

Science Explains Why We Sleep Badly When We're Not In Our Own Bed

by Alyss Bowen |
Published on

I’m currently cat-sitting, and house-sitting for a friend. This involves me staying round her lovely flat and looking after her lovely (until she wakes me up at 5.30am) cat. All is great, I get work quicker from hers, I can cook in a beautiful kitchen by myself without four other girls trying to cook at once (sorry flatmates, no offense meant) and it’s dead peaceful. There’s only one thing, I don’t sleep very well. And now science has a theory as to why we sleep badly when we stay in other beds.

Sleep scientists Masako Tamaki and Yuki Sasaki from Brown University examined a number of sleeping people, some sleeping in a new environment and others not. They discovered that when in a new place, only half of your brain is actually asleep, but the other half (the left hemisphere) remains active.

This is all down to the fact that whenever we stay in a new place our brain stays in survival mode. Whenever we’re in a unfamiliar place our brains are more prone to react to ‘deviant external stimuli’, which in simple terms means the sounds that scare us shitless.

Think of someone opening a door in the flat above, normally that just means the guy upstairs is coming home, but in an unfamiliar place you go into panic overdrive thinking ‘crap someones going to kill me, this is the end. Crap crap crap.’ It’s not necessarily a bad thing though, it means we can protect ourselves from a threat by waking up quickly. So I might not sleep very well for the next two-weeks but at least I’ll be alert to any unwelcoming intruders – Tobi the cat this includes you waking me up at 5.30am.

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Follow Alyss on Twitter @alyssbowen

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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