Have you ever been traveling but no matter how tired you were at the end of the day you stood wide awake all night just because you were somewhere new? According to researchers this is a common occurrence and there is a specific reason for it.
A team of experts from Brown University believe they've found the cause behind the problem that so many people experience. The results of their research have been published in Current Biology scientific journal.
Scientists describe sleep as a sort of puzzle that is put together depending on various factors, the most significant of these being one's environment. From a survival standpoint and due to strong self-preservation instincts, every living creature on the planet, including humans, sees any new environment as hostile.
This also explains why some animals sleep with their eyes open. Among them are several species of dolphin, sea lions, birds and the Beluga whale. Even when sleeping, part of their brain continues to work.
It's a phenomenon also seen in ducks. Usually the individuals near the edge of the water body keep their eyes open during sleep. Their open eyes keep the brain in a state that's ready to react should they notice any danger, such as an approaching predator.
But since we humans haven't mastered the ability to sleep with our eyes open, our instincts for self-preservation keep us awake when we find ourselves in an unfamiliar environment.
Researchers have reached this conclusion after conducting a study with 35 volunteers. They slept in laboratory conditions for 2 nights, with a week in between them.
During sleep, the volunteers were connected to equipment that read their heart rate, levels of oxygen in the blood, breathing, the movement of their eyes and legs, as well as activity of both hemispheres of the brain.
It was found that during the 1st night the left hemisphere of the brains of the volunteers remained awake. It is a region of the brain that is more sensitive to picking up on strange sounds from the surrounding environment.
Researchers say that this instinct can only be suppressed if we travel often. The brains of travelers are much more flexible and it's easier for them to adapt to any new environment, which is also why they always get a good night's rest, regardless of whether they're at home or in a hotel room somewhere.