I am going to start these points with the ‘official’ school of thought, and then add my own amendments. The widely publicised recipe for good sleep contains the following ingredients:
1) Good sleep hygiene – (this always makes me think of washing thoroughly before bed, and having clean sheets and nightwear). What it actually means is having a good environment for sleep i.e. dark, quiet room, comfy bed, not too hot/cold etc. Having a lack of physical clutter in the room is also supposed to help. (Tho, that said, I tend to sleep fairly well in our bedroom – which is far from pristene!)
2) Bedtime routine – the old idea of a milky drink and relaxing bath still stands true here. Another thing to consider is not to do anything physically/mentally stimulating immediately before turning in. No exercise, scary films or hard work on the computer, for example. Try to factor in a wind-down period, if at all possible. Avoid alcohol (does not promote natural sleep) and caffeine immediately before bed too (personal thought here – yeah, right :))
3) Waking routine – try to get up at approx the same time each day if at all possible, this can help to avoid the sleep/wake cycle being disrupted. Also, try not to nap in the day. With regard to the napping issue, I would say that this is not always the case. I personally feel that sometimes hiding under the duvet for a period of time is the best solution. Not an official line, obviously, but one I believe in.
4) Dealing with Busy-Brain – if you find yourself unable to sleep due to not being able to turn off the thoughts in your head, they suggest that you get up and do something boring until you feel tired. Not sure about this one myself, but I do get up if I have been wakeful for a long time. Another possible solution to this one is to write the worries on a piece of paper and tell yourself that you will address them in the morning. After all, how many of the plans/decisions made in the middle of the night seem to make sense in the cold light of day? (In may case, very very very few!) Finally, there is always prayer – perhaps that should have been at the head of this point!
5) The Sex and Sleep Rule – some say that this is all the bed should be used for. Again, I have my reservations. I would not want to give up the privilege of reading and breakfasting in my bed, after all. I am also very happy to listen to the radio there, but I would hesitate to work on my laptop in the bedroom and I cannot get my head around the TV in the bedroom thing. However, what is true for me is obviously not true for all people. So, perhaps this rule may work for you or, on the other hand, perhaps you could not sleep without TV! It’s your call.