1. Most people can't sleep because they can't stop thinking. So make a list of everything you have to do the next day, or whatever is on your mind. Recently I just took out my notebook and wrote just what came to my mind because I knew I had anxiety, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Sure enough my brain barfed it up all over the page. I usually get everything ready for the next day at this time too, like send myself emails, or double check my calendar. I also visualize my morning, and if I have anything pressing then I visualize myself arriving on time, or making that big sale, or laughing and having a good time!
2. You need to create a sleep deficit. Seems totally counter intuitive since when you have insomnia all you can think about during the day is how little you slept the night before but I swear this works. Go to bed at 12 or 1, then wake up at 6am. Add 30 minutes of sleep every day until you get to 7-8 hours. I always thought that I had to get to bed early so I would force myself into bed at 10, dreading it, feeling tension all over my body, probably crying because I knew I would never sleep. Wrong! Instead I read until I can't stand it any longer which leads me to my next tip...
3. Only stay in bed for 20 minutes. If you are still not asleep get up! This is the very hardest one for me. Go back to the chair and read again, or watch something on TV that doesn't stimulate you. Don't watch the news like my dad does because it gets your heart rate up. I have done this multiple times a night before. I like to stretch, sometimes I just pace around the house too. DO NOT use this time to catch up on work because hey, you'r up right? I still have to fight this impulse.
5. Create a routine that makes your brain realize "it's time for bed dummy." A hot bath helps because it raises your body temp so that when you cool off and your body temp dips lower, it brings sleepiness with it. Cool huh? I make my bed all pretty, turn the heat off (I like it cold) and do my ablutions so I am all clean and comfy and ready to read. I also stretch a lot because I have a lot of muscle tension. Other helpful things: burn a nice candle, turn the lights down in the house, no TV sounds or screens after a certain time in the evening, kitchen is cleaned and closed...
6. Dietary sleep wreckers! Don't have a full tummy. For me this means don't eat dinner. Personally I think dinner is for dates only. What a silly meal! Lets eat the biggest meal of the day with a bunch of protein and carbs together (digestive suicide for me) a few hours before we sleep. What? Don't do it. Eat a larger meal at 3, latest. Then nothing until bed. If you are hungry, drink some water. If you are digesting a meal while laying in bed, it will make it harder to fall asleep.
Also, no alcohol at all. Even a small amount of booze will kill your sleep buzz. You may be able to fall asleep quickly, but you will probably wake up soon after and then what? I only drink on the weekends and it doesn't effect me as much. I used to drink wine every day! It was a vicious cycle. Come home so tired I can't breath, drink a glass of wine, feel better. Then no sleep. Makes a really huge difference.
7. If you fall sleep, but then wake up a few hours later and can't fall asleep again you need a strategy! My doctor is from England, and he told me that he imagines that he is taking a walk in his hometown when he was a kid. He strolls along in his mind, seeing the shops and the people. Also counting helps a lot. He told me to count each breath in rounds of 20. I admit I rolled my eyes. "Really? counting? Good thing I am at the fucking doctor!" But ya'll it actually works.
Mostly now when its time to sleep I think "This is my time. Nothing is allowed to sabotage my special, personal brain space." When I have thoughts that start to invade my calm I just push them away because I know I have prepared everything I can to be successful in sleeping, and in my day coming up (see number 1.)
Ok, so what is your experience? Tried any of these? Do you have a fail-safe voodoo spell that has been passed down in your family for years? hmmmmm?