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Your expert guide to falling asleep in new places

Harper's Bazaar (UK) logo Harper's Bazaar (UK) 20/04/2019 Lydia House

Sleep. Young Woman Sleeping In Bed. Portrait Of Beautiful Female Resting On Comfortable Bed With Pillows In White Bedding In Light Bedroom In Morning. People Sleep. High Quality Image. © Getty Sleep. Young Woman Sleeping In Bed. Portrait Of Beautiful Female Resting On Comfortable Bed With Pillows In White Bedding In Light Bedroom In Morning. People Sleep. High Quality Image. If you can't sleep every time you land in a new time zone or stay at a friend's place, then, that's totally normal.

Sleep scientists have long been aware of the so-called 'first night effect', in which your debut slumber somewhere different is more disturbed than it is on subsequent nights.

Why? Evolutionarily, it makes sense that your mind is more fine-tuned to potential threats when you find yourself in an unfamiliar environment.

For our ancestors, the effect could have saved their lives, when a predator was more quickly spotted, thanks to shaky zeds causing them to wake up, faster.

Scroll on for tricks on how to handle it – and how to make sure that you get an alright kip when you travel.

Can't sleep when travelling? You could be a sensitive sleeper

© Getty ‘Sensitive sleepers tend to struggle when it comes to travelling and staying in new places’, says physiologist and sleep therapist, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan.

How to know if you’re a sensitive sleeper:

  • You find it hard to drift off
  • You wake at the smallest sound
  • It can take a while to adjust to sleeping in new environments
  • You may like to travel with a small pillow and blanket

If you are a sensitive sleeper, here's how to organise your hotel or airbnb room

Holidays and nights away are great – but not if it means you can't sleep and feel exhausted after your stay.

Follow Dr Ramlakhan's tips to ‘Sleep Shui’ your room and get a real good snooze.

Watch: Are You a Night Owl? Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome Could be to Blame [Buzz60]

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Move the tech

‘Don’t be scared to make your hotel room your own. If there’s a phone with a bright light next your bed, push it under the bed or desk, or if all-fails, place a towel over it.

'Equally, if there’s something that you know personally annoys you, just move it to wherever suits you.’

'Doing these things before you actually get into bed will mean you won’t feel irritated by jumping up and shoving something like a ticking clock behind a closed bathroom door.'

Keep your room cool

woman sleep in eye patch in grey bed. copy space © Getty woman sleep in eye patch in grey bed. copy space 'If you’re like me and you hate air conditioning, then you can always ask the hotel to turn it off.

'Apart from the obvious, of opening a window to make your room naturally cooler, most hotels will have fans that you can request.

'Fans also works as white noise, which help to block out any creaky corridor floorboards, or TV’s or chatting coming from other rooms.

'You can also listen to white noise playlists to help you fall asleep if that’s something that works for you.'

Gallery: 100 Ways to Live to 100 [Men's Journal]

Do your own turn-down

'Get the cushions off the bed, and if you like, take off any blankets that have been crammed into the sides and can make some people feel restricted when they sleep.

'I also take a lavender based sleep spray with me that I use every night in my home. If you have something like this, you can spritz it around in new areas to make you feel more acclimatised.

'It may seem a little wacko doing these rituals, but it is scientifically proven that we sleep when we feel safe, so if there’s something that helps you to create a feeling of familiarity, use it.'

Pack a herbal supplement

© Getty 'If you really struggle with sleep then it could be worth taking a herbal supplement, like Benenox, with you when you travel.

'Drink this just before you brush your teeth to naturally soothe the body and help ease it down.

'Drinking calming teas like chamomile don’t work for everyone as they can interrupt sleep later on in the night, when you need to get up for a wee, so try something like this, as there’s far less liquid if you drink it as a shot.'

Know your route to the bathroom

'If we know our way to the loo then we can auto pilot our way to the toilet in the middle of the night and then easily drift back to bed.

'If there’s obstacles in the way or you’re disorientated and take a wrong turn, it can cause you to wake fully and that’s when you will find it a lot harder to fall back to sleep.'

Tired, serene young woman sleeping in bed © Getty Tired, serene young woman sleeping in bed

Dr Ramlakhan's 5 non-negotiables to help with sleep problems

Eat within 30 mins of waking

'Eating stabilises your blood chemistry, it helps with anxiety and helps you produce hormones that help balance you, like serotonin and oxytocin.

'These also help you to produce the hormone melatonin later on in the day, which is what helps you sleep.

'If you struggle with this then start really small, even with just one piece of toast, a small bowl of muesli, or some fruit and some nuts.'

Go to bed earlier

'Try and go to bed earlier at least 3 or 4 times a week. On the other days, try and get to bed before midnight. You will feel better, look younger and think more sharply.'

Young woman is sleeping in her bed. Alarm clock in the foreground © Getty Young woman is sleeping in her bed. Alarm clock in the foreground

Drink more water

'We need to be more hydrated for our bodies to function optimally. Build it up gradually until you are drinking about a litre and a half a day.'

Cut back on caffeine

'Don’t replace food with coffee or tea, eat something first before you reach for the kettle in the morning. Try and reduce the overall amount you’re drinking and stop drinking caffeine-based tea and coffee after 3pm.'

Close up shot of woman pouring milk in coffee cup and ready to enjoy it © Getty Close up shot of woman pouring milk in coffee cup and ready to enjoy it

Take out time from tech

'Technology is a stimulant. Give yourself 20 minutes before you reach for your phone in the morning. Try and have delegated times throughout the day where you are away from screens and technology.

'If you live in a city where you can become overly stimulated, you can rebalance the body by doing things like yoga and meditation. Try and shut off from screens for at least an hour before you go to bed. Get into bed and rest before you go to sleep.

'Try not to rush in and whack your head on the pillow and expect sleep to happen instantly – ease yourself in and enjoy your bedroom.'

Gallery: 31 Sleep Tips For People With Anxiety [Refinery29]

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