For this former insomniac, Shakespeare's line “to sleep, perchance to dream” soon became “to sleep, perchance to sleep”, and dreams a mere bonus. For years I stumbled through mornings, often entire days, functioning on snippets of rest. I sought strategies and solutions and, fortunately, devised a mix of process, preparation and habit to defeat the sleepless beast.
First, the preparation. These are one-time tasks; blocks to set in place as the foundation of your regular sound slumber. In no particular order:
1. Remove the television from your room. Studies show that falling asleep to the tube's flicker and/or mutter will prevent you from diving deep into the refreshing Delta sleep ...view middle of the document...
2. Fresh air: get as much as you can during the day. Walk to work. Walk after dinner. Stick your head out the car window if you have to.
3. This one is tough. However, vices after dinner (if not altogether) have to go. This means nicotine, caffeine and alcohol. The first two are stimulants and, while that nightcap might help you drift off, it interrupts REM sleep. Don't hate me.
So, now you have your bed and bedroom optimized. You have let body and mind know you mean business. All that remains is your nightly routine.
1. If you have time, take a warm bath, even a brief one. A night's sleep is preceded by a drop in body temperature that signals your body. The bath raises your temperature, which then drops as it adjusts to the cooler environment of your bedroom. A shower can do the job, in a pinch. Bathe at least one to two hours before bedtime, and keep it warm, not hot.
2. Acquire soothing sounds. I have recorded cds of weather sounds (I find wind and rain to be most soothing, but your mileage may vary), light classical music (get yourself some Satie piano pieces, stat) or even white noise (the electric...