Firstly identify if there may be another problem which may be causing you to have difficulty sleeping and if there is, is there anything you can do about that problem? If sleeping is the main problem, then the following advice may be helpful.
Develop regular sleep times. Go to bed and get out of bed at about the same time, regardless of how tired you are. Also avoid naps during the day. This allows your body to develop a routine for sleeping.
Develop a good pre-sleep routine – try to use the hour before going to bed to unwind and prepare for sleep.
Reduce or eliminate liquid intake several hours before bedtime. Avoid all caffeine products (such as coke, tea or coffee), heavy foods, cigarettes and alcohol.
Medicines and other drugs – Some drugs can affect sleep because they are stimulants. If you are taking medicine it is worth checking with your pharmacist or doctor.
Use your bed only for sleep (and sex) – Insomnia is often the result of increased anxiety before bedtime and while lying awake in bed. Many who have insomnia use bed for watching TV, talking on the phone, and worrying; and as a result, the bed is associated with anxiety. Watch TV or talk on the phone in another room. If you have friends who call late at night, tell them not to call after a specific hour. Avoid anxiety during the hour before bedtime (for instance, avoid arguments and challenging tasks).
Try not to worry about not getting enough sleep or try desperately to fall asleep – this will only increase your frustration and anxiety. Ironically, a very effective way of increasing sleep is to practice giving up trying to fall asleep. You can say to yourself, “I’ll give up trying to get to sleep and just concentrate on the relaxing feelings in my body”.
Listen to relaxing music or use a relaxation tape which will enhance your restfulness. The body scan exercise in the Mindfulness ebook is a VERY effective way to relax.
If you are lying awake for more that 30 minutes, get up and go into another room. Write down any catastrophic thoughts and restructure them. Typical automatic thoughts are
“I’ll never get to sleep,” “If I don’t get enough sleep I won’t be able to function,” “I need to get to sleep immediately,” and “I’ll get sick from not getting enough sleep.”
The most likely consequence of not getting enough sleep is that you will feel tired and irritable. Although these are uncomfortable inconveniences, they are not catastrophic.
This may seem obvious but – Do not go to bed until you feel sleepy
Don’t stay in bed longer to catch up on lost sleep.
Because your disturbed sleep patterns have taken a long time to learn, it may take you a while to unlearn them. Do not expect immediate results.