TO REAP the benefits of a good night’s rest, there areyou need to consider, says at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston: how much you sleep, how well, and when.
Carving out the time to visit the land of nod is one thing, but guaranteeing good quality rest can be beyond our control. For instance, people often sleep poorly their first night in a new place. To find out why,and colleagues at Brown University in Rhode Island recently as they slept in unfamiliar places, then again when those spots had become familiar. In the first scenario, the team found that parts of one hemisphere of the brain remained active while the participants were asleep. This “first-night effect” may be an evolutionary adaptation, keeping part of your brain alert to make sure the new environment is safe. “We call this system the night watch,” Tamaki says.
Even in a familiar environment, sounds like a snuffling dog or planes overhead can, whether you’re aware of them or not. “They may force us to transition out of a deeper stage of sleep,” says Czeisler. If they wake you up, you may not realise it was a noise that roused you.
Temperature is another neglected factor. Studies show that people with sleep disorders who wake up a lot during the night can. Counter-intuitively, this helps the body to release more heat. The cooling effect reduces the number of awakenings and …