Good Sleep Rules
Here are some fundamental rules for insomniacs:
1. Cut Down Your Bed Time
Here is a technique used by doctors in some sleep programs to treat insomnia.
The basic idea is: don't lie in bed restless, worrying, tossing, and turning. Aim to be in bed only during the time you that actually sleep.
First, determine how many hours of actual sleep you have during the night. Make it four hours if it is less than that. Then, stay awake at night until you have just that amount of time before your wake up time. For example, if your actual sleep is 5 hours and your wake up time is 6AM - go to bed at 1AM.
The goal is to step-by-step improve your "sleep efficiency" (i.e. your sleep time versus total time in bed).
It could be hard in the beginning. However, after several (5 or so) days, you will see that your sleep efficiency will increase. Every time it reaches 90% (i.e. you sleep 90% of the total bed time), increase your bedtime 20-30 minutes until your sleep efficiency reaches 90% again. In a few weeks, many insomnia patients will have a normal amount of sleep time.
This technique of sleep curtailment is especially helpful if your insomnia is associated with depression.
2. Do Not Try to Sleep
Trying to fall asleep too hard is another big mistake insomniacs make.
"If you don't succeed at first, try again, try harder". This may work in many areas of life, but it doesn't work with regards to sleep at all. The harder you try to sleep, the more likely that you will stay awake. You can't force yourself to sleep.
Some suggest keeping your mind blank. However, that almost never works. You can control your mind for a while, but eventually you will lose control and your thoughts will come back.
So let your thoughts wander. Occupy your brain with something else other than trying to fall asleep. Conjure up some boring thoughts so sleep can occur naturally.
For some, reading really helps. Although, do not read anything so exciting that you can't put the book away. Try to stay awake and read as long as possible, until your eyes close involuntarily. Then, drop the book, and turn off the light.
Also, if you read, use light that is adequate but not too bright.
No matter what you do during the night, get up in the morning at the same time as you usually do. Do not oversleep.
3. Pre-Sleep Mindset
Our brain does not have a switch. You can't turn it off and fall asleep 15 minutes later. You need to wind down slowly.
Setup and follow a soothing routine before going to bed. This will help you to set your mindset into the sleeping mode. Play with your hobby, go for a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood, read, watch TV, listen to a radio, change into pajamas, brush teeth, etc. Play around with different routines, whatever calms you down and makes you relaxed. Sinking into the bed and closing your eyes would be a natural conclusion of that pre-bed sleeping ritual.
Don't wrestle with some problem or get into an argument right before sleep.
4. Maintain a Regular Schedule
Humans are creatures of habit, and our bodies work best with regular rhythm, with consistent times for work, pleasure and sleep.
Follow your regular wake up and bed times. If you work a lot, ensure that you have at least a couple hours of leisure time before going to sleep.