1. Exercise most days, even if it’s just to take a walk.
2. No caffeine after 7:00 p.m.
3. An hour before bedtime, avoid doing any kind of work that takes alert thinking. Addressing envelopes–okay. Analyzing an article–nope.
4. Adjust your bedroom temperature to be slightly chilly.
5. Keep your bedroom dark. Studies show that even the tiny light from a digital alarm clock can disrupt a sleep cycle. We have about six devices in our room that glow bright green; it’s like sleeping in a mad scientist’s lab. The Big Man has a new pet, a Roomba (yes, he loves his robot vacuum) that gives out so much light that I have to cover it with a pillow before bed.
6. Keep the bedroom as tidy as possible. It’s not restful to fight through chaos into bed.
If sleep won’t come:
7. Breathe deeply and slowly until you can’t stand it anymore.
8. If your mind is racing (you’re planning a trip, a move; you’re worried about a medical diagnosis), write down what’s on your mind. This technique really works for me.
9. Slather yourself with body lotion. This feels good and also, if you’re having trouble sleeping because you’re hot, it cools you down.
10. If your feet are cold, put on socks.
11. Stretch your whole body.
12. Have a warm drink. Supposedly warm milk contains melatonin and trytophan and so helps induce sleep, but in fact, a glass of milk doesn’t contain enough to have any effect. But it’s still a soothing drink. My nighttime favorite: 1/3 mug of milk, add boiling water, one packet of Equal, and a dash of vanilla. A real nursery treat.
14. Stretch your toes up and down several times.
15. Tell yourself, “I have to get up now.” Imagine that you just hit the snooze alarm and in a minute, you’re going to be marching through the morning routine. Often this is an exhausting enough prospect to make me fall asleep.
16. If you still can’t sleep, re-frame: re-frame your sleeplessness as a welcome opportunity to snatch some extra time out of your day.