Can you sleep in hotel lobbies overnight

Zlatan Ibrahimović is quite bright. The Swedish international in the service of Paris Saint-Germain is considered one of the best footballers in the world - even though he not only regularly has to stay in hotels for away games, but also stayed at the Paris hotel "Le Bristol" for almost two years. According to sleep researchers, this is not beneficial to performance. Psychologists from the USA show in the journal Current Biology from today's Friday, why many people are so exhausted the next day when they spend the night somewhere else (vol. 26, p. 1, 2016).

"You don't sleep well in an unfamiliar place, we all know that," says Yuka Sasaki from Brown University, who contributed to the study. "In Japan, the saying goes: if you change your pillow, you cannot sleep." In their study, the researchers combined various imaging methods, including EEG and functional nuclear spin. They observed that in volunteers, the left hemisphere of the brain regularly remained more active than the right hemisphere during the first night. If the left hemisphere was stimulated with a beep, the test subjects woke up more easily than if the right hemisphere was stimulated.

One half of the brain remains active

One side of the brain appears to remain more alert and sensitive than the other. "On a small scale, we seem to have the same thing on our minds as whales and dolphins," says Sasaki. It is said that marine mammals - like some birds - only sleep with one half of their brains; the other one stays awake. Quite a few people practice a similar division of tasks in unfamiliar beds, at least during the first night: while one half of the brain is resting, the other half examines the unfamiliar surroundings. No wonder you feel groggy the next day.

"It is a completely normal reaction not to sleep well in a strange environment," says Peter Geisler, sleep specialist at the University of Regensburg. "Attention and tension are increased - as with young mothers, who have an increased basic tension and wake up more easily when the child moves." It is part of normal sleep to wake up briefly up to ten times an hour. "When you find that everything is okay, you turn around, go back to sleep and can't remember anything," says Geisler. "In a strange environment, however, it takes longer to check everything and then you may be exhausted the next day." In the current study, the left hemisphere stayed awake longer, but only the first phase of sleep was measured. "The watcher hemisphere may change later that night," says Sasaki.

The restlessness in strange beds seems to go back to evolutionary patterns. "Sleeping poorly out of fear of the unknown ensured the survival of the species," says sleep doctor Geisler. "However, there are people who have no problems sleeping anywhere else at all." What is perceived as threatening is ultimately a question of getting used to. Even nights in a hotel can become routine.