If you’re one of us that has difficulty sleeping in a new place, there’s a good reason for that. Researchers have found that our brains stay partly awake when we sleep for the first time in a new place, which is why you often feel unrested in the morning. You shouldn’t make this experience even worse by skipping your sleep apnea treatment.

Wakefulness in Deepest Sleep

Difficulty sleeping in a new place is known as the first night effect (FNE). Researchers looked at brain scans of individuals who were undergoing sleep experimental sessions. Subjects slept two nights in the lab, and researchers compared activity in different regions in the brain between subjects and between the first and subsequent nights in the sleep experimental sessions.

They found that some patients experienced strong asymmetrical activity in their brains during sleep. In general, it was the left hemisphere that remained more active during the first night. The area that remained active is known as the default-mode network (DMN). This network is largely responsible for internally-focused thoughts, such as daydreaming and introspection. It is believed it may also play an important role in preparing us to respond to external stimuli.

The disparity in brain wave activity was most pronounced during slow-wave sleep. Slow-wave sleep is the deepest level of sleep not associated with REM sleep. Normally, this level of sleep is hard to awaken from, which researchers think may have made us vulnerable, so under unfamiliar circumstances the brain utilized the DMN as a kind of alarm system. People with active DMNs responded more to unusual sounds in the environment.

People who had an active DMN were also more likely to have a harder time falling asleep. Those with the largest brain asymmetry took 50 minutes or more to fall asleep. All these effects largely vanished by the second night.

Disturbed Sleep While Traveling

For many of us, this DMN alarm system is why we have difficulty sleeping when we travel. This partial awakeness means that you’re already going to be getting poor sleep, so it’s imperative that you bring your sleep apnea treatment with you when you travel in order to avoid doubly disturbed sleep.

If you are looking for a more convenient approach to sleep apnea treatment while traveling, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.