If sleep were a person it would be nice. Sleep lets you enter a new world and forget about everything in this one for a while. I love to sleep, but my mind has this problem where it won't stop talking to itself. 4am is like friend who knows all my secrets. The problem when you suffer from insomnia or have a mind that apparently exists in a separate time zone to your body is that it's hard not only to drift off to sleep, but to sustain it for a long enough period of time. Sleep vs. thoughts. Rest vs. exhaustion. Years existing in a never ending cycle of minimal sleep have taught me a few tips and tricks about how to optimise those precious hours you do manage to steal, and how to relax your mind before bed time to try and help you switch off a little easier.
001. Atmosphere - Get into bed at least 20 minutes before you actually plan on falling asleep… by this I don't mean get into bed at 10 and then wind down. If you want to go to sleep at 10, get in to bed at 9.40, or earlier if possible, and leave all technology in another room. Light some candles, read a book or jot down your thoughts in a notebook. All of these things will help to clear your mind meaning you will fall asleep much calmer.
002. Fresh Bedding - There are few things in life as satisfying as sinking in to a bed of freshly washed sheets. There's something comforting in the smell and the crisp texture that I absolutely love, and I always seem to get a better nights sleep the night I've changed my bed. Now, I've got into the habit of making sure I change my bed the night before a stressful event such as an exam, and it really does help me to drift off to sleep a little easier.
003. Herbal Tea - Right before bed try drinking a cup of warm herbal tea. Chamomile tea is favoured for it's relaxing properties, however I am personally a huge fan of ginger or cranberry green tea. Not only will the warm drink help you to relax, going to bed hydrated will help to ensure you sleep for longer and are not woken up during the night due to thirst.
004. Practice Yoga Breathing - Recently I've really fallen in love with yoga, it's one of the only activities where I can completely channel all my energy into myself. Yoga helps me to find my calm and relax both my body and mind. If you're not a yoga fan, or can't get to a class late at night, try youtubing some yoga breathing exercises. Even maintaining a steady rhythm of deep breaths will help the whole body to relax, making it much easier for you to drift off to sleep.