(CNN)Do you struggle to fall asleep and/or stay asleep when you are on the road? Don’t blame your pillows or the sheets. Instead, blame your own hyper-vigilant brain.
It appears half of our brain may remain alert when you sleep in a new location, at least on that first night you are away from home, according to a new study published in the latest edition of Current Biology.
Dr. Muhammad Najjar a neurology specialist in sleep medicine with Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois, said the study seems to make a lot of sense. “There can be a lot more anxiety around sleeping away from home and that can make it more difficult to sleep,” Najjar said. And often when people travel for work they already have an elevated amount of stress. “That certainly will effect sleep quality, too.”
There are a couple of tricks that may help. Bring your own pillow with you. The familiar smell and squish of your favorite pillow may trick your brain into thinking you are at home.
Find a hotel with rooms that look like your own bedroom.Staying at a friend’s futon may be a little trickier, but a sleep mask to block out the light or earplugs to keep things quiet may help. You can download smartphone apps that can generate white noise or other calming sounds such as ocean waves.
But make sure you don’t check your email when you turn on that app. The light from the phone or computer or the stress that comes from email or texts can send your mind racing. Doctors suggest you shut your electronics down about 90 minutes before you go to bed.
A warm shower right before bed can also help. Keep your room cool, though. Your body rests better at about 65 degrees.
With 48% of Americans reporting they have trouble getting a good night’s rest, that’s about seven to eight hours, anything that will help you and your brain get comfortable should help you sleep a little better. That’s not bad advice even if you are a homebody.