Friday, January 28, 2022

Your Brain Sometimes Sleeps ‘With One Eye Open’

Your brain has many functions that you are not conscious of. Have you ever wondered why you can’t sleep in a new place and you prefer to sleep in your own bed? Science now has the answer. As it turns out, when someone says they’re going to sleep “with one eye open,” that’s exactly what their brain does.

A phenomenon that scientists call the “first-night effect” (FNE) has now been studied. It happens when a person stays in a new place that’s unfamiliar to them, like a motel room. The brain goes into survival mode, with it only turning half off, resulting in one hemisphere remaining more “awake” than the other in a state of readiness for trouble.

Scientists from Brown University who made the discovery have also suggested that it may help us to jump awake when strange sounds approach. Even though FNE has been known for some time now, it has never been fully understood why it happens — until now.

Your brain can often sleep “with one eye open.”
As it turns out, when someone says they’re going to sleep ‘with one eye open,’ that’s exactly what their brain does. (Image: via Unsplash)  

Your brain can mimic some marine animals that show unihemispheric sleep

Sleep scientist Masako Tamaki and her colleagues used advanced neuroimaging techniques to carefully analyze 35 volunteers and their brains while they slept. Yuka Sasaki of Brown University and lead author said in a statement:

“We know that some marine animals and birds show unihemispheric sleep, one awake and the other asleep. While the human brain doesn’t show the same degree of asymmetry that the brains of marine animals do, the new findings suggest that our brains may have a miniature system of what whales and dolphins have.”

The study found that a particular network in the left hemisphere remained more active than in the right hemisphere. When an irregular beeping sound was played in the right ear to stimulate the left hemisphere, it increased the likelihood of waking and faster action upon waking. However, when the sounds were played in the left ear to stimulate the right hemisphere, it had little effect.

We know that some marine animals and birds show unihemispheric sleep, one awake and the other asleep. (Image: via Pixabay)

But in subsequent sleep sessions, it was found that both halves of the brain turned off completely. Sasaki suggests that you may be able to reduce this effect by bringing your own pillow or even staying in hotels that have similar accommodations. She also says that it may even be possible to learn to turn this night’s surveillance off.

The researchers are now using transcranial magnetic stimulation to temporarily knock out the “awake” part of the brain to see whether sleep improves. For those who are interested, their findings were published in the journal Current Biology.

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Wilma Oakes
When Wilma isn't eating delicious food, she's scouring the internet, and dreaming of what yummy foods she can make next. One of her dreams would be to eat her way through Italy and Japan, and also see the sights of course. Another passion she has is natural health. When she was young her mother was sick for years. When the doctors finally worked out what was wrong they put her on medication, but it wasn't making her any better. Her parents turned to natural health and changed their health and their lives. Wilma has been researching about natural health since she was 12 and is currently studying nutritional medicine. The most important thing in her life is her two beautiful children and husband. They are blessed with a girl and boy and are living the tropical lifestyle in sunny Queensland, Australia. In her opinion the best state in Australia.
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