Write it down. Going to bed with a lot on your mind or unfinished business is not conducive for a good nights rest. Writing a to-do list or your thoughts down help clear your mind. Also, if there are stressful things going on with your life, that also disturbs your sleep and writing should help. And since you're a writer, I'm sure you'll enjoy this bedtime routine.
Deeper Sleeper. My HMO has a 6 week class dealing with improved sleep that used to be called ?The Insomnia Class?. I took it and learned bunches. Most important factoid: Every adult, any age, needs only 5.5 hours of sleep a night. Can you believe it? No wonder I couldn?t get back to sleep at 3:30 am. I'd already had all the sleep I needed!
If I went to sleep at 10 pm, then after 5.5 hours it is, you guessed it, 3:30 am. You mean I don't need to get on those cool downers that leave you waking up buzzed? I am talking about the prescriptive ones that you do not ever need to stop taking, even if you want to. So what am I supposed to do, stay up at 3:30 am? Either that or stay up later the night before. That would be cool, then I can actually watch that entire love story DVD before I return it.
It's amazing how much more you can get done with those additional 15 to 25 extra hours a week. And I gotta tell ya, I can now do a mini-triathlon or a major work project after only 5.5 a night. That is with NO, (?Did he just say no??) that's right you Bigbucks Coffee devotees, absolutely NO caffeine. Not even a Pink Bull, a Red Cow or Lemon Dew. Try it for a week or your wasted hours back. Guaranteed.
Jeepers Peepers. Reading in bed may be okay if it puts you to sleep after about 20 minutes. But get that TV the h**l out of your bedroom. It's an insomnia machine if ever there was one. Sure it can put you to sleep on the sofa but probably not in the comfort of your own bed. If you wake up after just a few hours (remember, 5.5 or more is plenty, even if you feel tired at first) don't do anything fun. Like eat and watch some more sleep. Try meditating. How much fun is that? Boring, maybe, but you?ll either go back to sleep or get some lengthened mindfulness practice that may be all the rest your mind and body need.
Sleepy Time Guy. Twenty minutes a day of meditation makes for a reduced stress day and often, a good nights sleep. [Lancelot was a fairly good knight and he slept fairly well, or so the legend goes.] Another excellent ?twenty minutes a day? thing is exercise. It's hard to stay awake night after night when you work out day after day and twice on Sunday.
Electricity-free evening. Once a week, my boyfriend and I have an electricity-free night. We chose Tuesdays, just because of our schedules, and at 6PM we turn off the lights, the TV, the cell phones, the radio, and light a bunch of candles and lanterns. We read, silently, by candlelight and inevitably, we fall asleep much earlier...even as early as 8, and sleep much more soundly. There is something about slowing down the pace of your body and mind that can't be beat.
Create a routine. When you have small children you create a bedtime routine. It eases them into the change from day to night. we need to do the same thing. Create your own nightime ritual. One that will signal your mind and your body that it's time to slow down. You can stretch, meditate, shower, read, whatever calms you and puts you into a relaxation mode.
I see you've been getting a lot of great advice here. I just have one thing to add. Calcium and Magnesium are supposed to help you sleep better. That may have something to do with why warm milk helps? Since I started taking a calcium supplement (especially with dinner) I have noticed that I sleep better. Of course it has other health benefits too! Good luck!
I have difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep. I took a class on posture recently - the instructor, Diane Whitacre, is an anatomist. Along with postural exercizes she stressed that we should sleep without pillows, on our backs, on a relatively firm mattress in order to keep our back, head and neck aligned. I was a bit skeptical about giving up my pillow - but was pleasantly surprised to find out that I got to sleep quicker and slept much better (and far less tossing and turning) by following her technique. Give it a try!
I get very good results taking a product called Natural Calm. It's a highly absorbable form of magnesium. I usually dissolve anywhere between 1/2 and 1 teaspoonful of the Natural Calm into warm water and sip til it's gone about 15 minutes before going to bed. Many people are magnesium deficient, which can affect sleep as well as muscle health. This is very good for muscle cramps too.
In the yoga context sleep remedy takes the approach of settling the central nervous system.
Tracii's post below touches on many of the methods we use. Rubbing oil into the skin is one of the best as the skin is the termination of the nervous system.
Avoiding yang foods in favor of more calming Yin foods, reducing or eliminating activities which jar the nervous system (like television violence, computing, arguing), and preparing the body for sleep with a few minutes of relaxation (not reading or sipping tea but lying still) are also very helpful.
As for bedtime, I'm told there some research on sleep that indicates getting to be around 9pm tends to be most beneficial. Apparently an hours worth of sleep after 11pm is not worth as much to the body as an hour of sleep at 9.
If you have noises outside your window, like barking dogs or cars, that disturb you when you're trying to fall asleep, try to block them out with some kind of white noise. We use a humidifier in the winter and a ceiling fan in the summer that blocks most of the street sounds.
I would also recommend, if this continues, that you get your doctor to set you up for a sleep study to make sure there isn't something deeper happening.
Duh, it's been a while since I've been here and I posted a comment only to realize I had already posted a while back. At least I'm consistent, I still mentioned the Natural Calm magnesium.
Just a tad more on it....magnesium deficiency prevents smooth muscle relaxation and proper functioning. It's easier to become magnesium-deficient than some might think and that restless feeling (even if it's not what you'd identify as restless leg syndrome or is not that severe) could be your smooth muscle system asking for a little magnesium.
We just heard on the news show a doctor say a handful of cherries will help you sleep. Don't know about you but I love cherries and they're in season now, when they're not just eat some dried cherries. Happy sleeping :)