Battled this problem for quite some time before doing a few things that helped. I honestly don’t think most people recognize what a significant problem this has become and it’s impact on society and the economy. Ultimately I think you need to analyze what are some of the factors that prevent you from sleeping. The thing that keeps me awake is having things on my mind that are creating stress. If you have medical, professional or personal issues that are nagging you, deal with them immediately to the greatest extent possible. Other than that, I can only offer a few points that probably you have already thought of:
1. Exercise. I can’t understate how important this is, especially during periods of high stress. The feeling of relaxation and well-being after working out will carry over when you finally hit the sack at night. But, do NOT do this immediately before going to bed. You will still be too alert to fall asleep. The exercise must be done at least a few hours before bed.
2. Have a feast. And I do mean a FEAST. Eat a very large meal a few hours before bed. Ever wonder why you want to sleep after Christmas turkey dinner? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the turkey, but the large meal itself with all the carbs, fats and protein. It stimulates your serotonin production, which in turn produces that sleepy feeling. Personally, I eat not much at all during the day, but then eat a very large meal at night. I have found that this helps a lot, but your dietary/lifestyle issues might be different.
3. Many people suggest having a routine regarding going to bed. I have found this to be one of the worst things to do. The routine itself places too much pressure and stress on oneself because you are constantly watching the clock and reminding yourself that you have to go to bed. Instead, I try to make sure everything that needs to be done in advance for the following day is done early so that I can relax and allow myself to doze off whenever I want even if I’m not in bed. I find that if I doze off on the couch or easy chair during the evening for an hour or two, it’s usually easier to get back to sleep when I go to bed. With this in mind, I definitely recommend the trick of not sleeping in your normal place as a means of getting to sleep. Not sure why this trick works, but it does for me. So, if you fall asleep on the couch feel free to stay there.
4. The TV and computer monitors can be sleep killers. It’s been said that the light from these two things essentially tells the brain that it’s still daylight outside and that you shouldn’t be sleeping but instead be outside hunting and gathering. Not sure how true this is but it sounds reasonable.
5. Make sure the place you are sleeping is dark. I mean ZERO light. Think “cave.” Put a piece of tape over the light on the clock radio.
6. I recommend avoiding drugs of any kind.
7. Avoid sleeping in too much. It might seem difficult if you haven’t slept the night before, but soon it becomes habit forming. It’s one of the worst habits I ever developed.
8. Do you have a wife or girlfiend? If so, they should be involved in uh, er, ah (nervous laughter), “helping you” with this problem. If not, you’re on your own…
"Trying to hit him was like trying to drink coffee with a fork." - Willie Stargell on Sandy Koufax