The “First-Night Effect”

Curious scientists from Brown University¬†decided to research¬†why it’s hard to fall asleep in a new place (Orenstein, 2016). This is scientifically known as the first night effect (Orenstein, 2016). Professors and researchers led three experiments where they brought 35 participants into the lab and measured there brain activity for a couple of nights (Orenstein, 2016). The results they found showed that during the first night, one hemisphere of the brain seemed to stay more activated as a way to stay alert for possible danger, just as many marine animals do which need to constantly resurface for air and be ready for predators (Orenstein, 2016). Not much is known about why this occurs or if it is only one hemisphere over the other that stays alert. This can be researched in future experiments in order to uncover new information and clarify the science behind this phenomenon. One strength about this research is the use of electroencephalography, magnetoencephalography, and magnetic resonance imaging. These multitude of measurements resulted in more data, which always leads to more accurate findings and more possible analysis. This study subject is important to everyday people, especially avid travelers, because with more research scientists could come up with ways to help people get over this effect and get better nights of sleep.


Orenstein, D. (2016, April 21). Why It’s Hard to Fall Asleep Somewhere New. Retrieved from

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