I always say there are three main tasks to attend to in order to be healthy, (1) sleep, (2) exercise, and (3) eating. Now of course, meditation, art, music, and many other areas of life are significant. However, sleep seems to get put on the back-burner for many people who feel they are too "busy". Or, some would feel blessed to be too busy to sleep because they want it so bad but it seems to escape them so many nights. Well there are quite a few simple, easy, and mostly free techniques to increase the likelihood of sleep, both in quality and quantity. Below I have outlined a few suggestions. You can also view various products that I find extremely useful to help calm and to get to sleep. You can view them on my Resources page, the pictures link to items on Amazon. Shop around, they are just suggestions. Here we go!!
Routine!! You want to try and go to bed around the same time and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. You have an internal clock, and your body will try to adjust to guess when you want it to energize or calm. If you do not give it consistent information, it will guess random times every night and sleep will elude you.
Use the bedroom for what it was meant for, sleep. You may of course use it for sex, if you are one of the lucky ones, but it needs to remain a calm space as much as possible. Your mind and body associate spaces with certain thoughts and feelings. Do not lay in bed to watch tv or do work on the computer. Lay in bed when you plan to fall asleep.
Stay away from the light! Do not be on your phone or watching tv an hour before you want to sleep. Your brain releases a chemical called melatonin when it perceives the sun is setting (and based on internal clock mentioned above). If you are blasting your face with light from the phone or tv, you are literally telling your brain you do not want to sleep.
Embrace your sensitive side. Use your senses to engage yourself in the present and even distract from racing thoughts. Your senses can ground you in the present moment and get you out of your head, away from worry or thoughts. Put on a smell to soothe, like a lavender candle or chamomile essential oil. Please the ears with some nature sounds or a guided meditation. Go after the taste buds with some chamomile tea and a dab of honey. Stay away from caffeine and citrus. Feel comfy by being warm or having a weighted blanket, maybe hug a pillow.
Pick up a pen and put down the worries. Have racing thoughts at night? Put a journal by your bed and write down what's in your head. Get it all out on paper so you know you won't forget and you can leave it until morning. Or even schedule time before bed to let yourself think and worry. Schedule 15-20 minutes before bed to sit or lay down and write about worries and make plans and to-do lists.
Screw it, give me some! We don't want to take medication unless we absolutely need it. We also can't take Nyquil or Zquil every night. A healthy alternative is Melatonin. Some people have tried this and report it didn't work, but even if it didn't work for you maybe a different form would. Melatonin comes in pills, gummies, liquid, and oil to inhale. They are each different both in strength and how long they take to hit you.
Get noisy! Try a white noise machine, or just use a fan or the tv on a dead channel with static noise. This can help a lot if you are a light sleeper. It has you go to sleep with a higher decibel of sound as the base level, so many noises will no longer wake you up.
Get some guidance. Try putting on a guided meditation to listen to. Or just put on ambient sound to focus on. Try something called Binaural Beats, just do a search on Google or Spotify or YouTube.
Try progressive muscle relaxation. It is a simple practice of focusing on specific parts of the body as you tense and relax the muscle. It is not only a way to regulate your nervous system, but you are also practicing mindfulness. You can watch a video to guide you titled "Progressive Muscle Relaxation Training" on the videos page under the Resources tab above.
Move and Breath. Try doing some stretching and deep breathing to release tension before bed. Do some calm yoga, put on some lavender and dim the lights. You can also do some breathing to regulate the nervous system. Try breathing in as you count to four in your head, then hold your breath as you count to four, then breathe out as you count to four. This helps to regulate your nervous system and calm.