1. Be consistent!
Whichever techniques you establish or deem helpful, performing them at the same time every night is key to establishing good sleep hygiene and fostering learned behaviors. Adhere as closely as possible to set bedtimes and wake times.
2. Having an arsenal of techniques to form and round out your routine is best. The more ways you have to relax and slumber, the greater the probability that you will easily drift off to sleep. So, try many different techniques to start and consistently use what works. If you find that some techniques become ineffective over a period of time, search for new ones.
3. Use multiple sensory modalities to initiate relaxation. Olfaction (sense of smell) is the most primitive sense, and coupled with audition (hearing) or soothing tactile (touch) stimulation can readily trigger relaxation and sleep. For example, aroma therapy in a warm bath or massage bolsters those techniques. Other examples include using heated blankets, cooling pillows, white noise or other sound machines. There are several apps that use differing techniques that may be helpful such as:
4. Reduce stimulation at least 1 hour or more prior to bedtime. This means no exercise, social media, reading, or electronic devices in bed. The bed should be reserved for sleep and intimacy only, so the body learns and gets accustomed to performing only these 2 activities while in bed. If reading helps with falling asleep, sit on the side of the bed or get out of bed and sit in a chair to read until you feel sleepy enough to drift off to sleep.
5. Similarly, sleeping should be limited to the bed. No napping! Napping during the day interferes with night sleeping and any established routines. Napping may be unavoidable, but can be deterred by keeping active during the day.
6. In addition to vitamins and supplements such as melatonin, kava, lemon balm and chamomile, there are foods that can assist in establishing good sleep hygiene. Of course there are individual differences and preferences, but turkey, rice, fish, milk, almonds, kiwi, and tart cherry juice may be helpful. In general, avoid caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods, and restrict any liquids to 1 hour before bedtime. Consult a nutritionist if possible. Learn about more ways diet can assist with sleep at:
The Best Foods to Help You Sleep - Sleep Foundation
Foods and sleep - Mayo Clinic
11 Foods to Help You Fall Asleep When You Need It (thedailynutrition.com)
How to Eat to Improve Your Sleep | Shape
7. If 4 hours of sleep cannot be achieved or if there are multiple days of sleeplessness in a 1-week period, seek professional help. Help can be gained from acupuncturists, hypnotists, psychologists, psychiatrists, endocrinologists, and general medical doctors. More comprehensive evaluation or assessments may be needed, such as a sleep study.
Sample Sleep Routine--
Sleep Foundation (sleepfoundation.org)
American Sleep Association (sleepassociation.org)