1. Create a routine. At least 30 minutes before your bedtime, do something relaxing. Consider soft music, meditation, breathing exercises, or whatever helps you slow down. If you do this consistently, you’ll train your body to expect sleep after this routine.
2. Write down your worries. Keep a pad by your bed and make notes of the things that are worrying you. As the saying goes, “Let paper remember so you can forget.”
3. Write out a detailed to-do list for tomorrow. A recent study showed this action helped people fall asleep nine minutes faster than people who wrote about tasks they’d already completed during the day.
4. Read a book. Nope, not an eBook. Screens are not your friends at night. Read an old-fashioned paper book. And make sure that it’s not a thriller or a topic that gets your mind racing.
5. Check out YouTube for binaural beats, ASMR recordings, guided meditations, sleep stories, or other videos that help calm or distract the mind. Just be sure that you don’t have it set to automatically go to the next video. That can be a rude awakening.
6. Get out of bed. If you lie awake 20-30 minutes, get out of bed and do something else. You want to reinforce the idea that the bed is a place for sleep, not worries and insomnia.
7. Try sound – white noise, pink noise, brown noise, gentle melodies, waves, rain -- whatever sound helps you connect with that quiet spot inside you. There are sound machines, apps, podcasts, and videos with a wide selection of sounds and experiences. I personally love the ambient sound channels with soundtracks like a library in a rainstorm that you can find on YouTube. (You can tell I’m all about the free stuff, can’t you?)
8. Eat a light carbohydrate snack. You don’t want to eat a heavy meal before bed, but if you ate supper early and are feeling hungry, you might want to consider something light like select nuts, fruits, vegetables or even a little popcorn or whole-grain crackers. While you don’t want to be digesting that heavy meal, you also don’t want to be distracted by starving. (Well, that’s my excuse.)
9. Start early by getting more sunshine in the mid-morning hours. It helps reset your brain’s clock and make it easier to fall asleep at night.