Monday, 4 July 2016

New house effect may have an ally

What's making noises in your house?I was struck by an article in New Scientist that I came across a few weeks ago. It said that people often have trouble sleeping for the first night in unfamiliar surroundings. It's certainly something I've experienced. It is called the 'first night effect'. Research has shown that those experiencing the effect were more alert in the left hemisphere of their brain during sleep compared to the right. This suggested that half the brain was unusually alert, presumably to possible threats that might be present in an unfamiliar location.

I found it interesting because it has parallels with the 'new house effect' (see here) that can explain certain haunting phenomena. It works like this. When you first move into a new house there are, naturally, lots of unfamiliar sights, smells and, particularly, noises. These become familiar over time but at first they can appear strange and unexplained, even paranormal.

It is easy to see how the two effects might work together. Someone moving in to a new place may be woken in the middle of the night by an unexplained sound. They would be more readily woken because of the first night effect. And the noise could be interpreted as a haunting phenomenon because of the new house effect. In reality, the sound could be completely normal, like pipes contracting after central heating goes off.

It is striking how many people report cases of haunting when they first move into a house, despite the previous occupants having had no problems. Similarly, it is often visitors to a building that first report strange things going on that the residents have never noticed. It seems likely to me that the first night effect and new house effect probably do indeed work together.

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