I haven't read all the replies so I apologize for any repeats, but here is what I've been doing lately:
- I plan to go to bed earlier rather than later. I find that going to bed between 11 and midnight is realistic enough, and I find that it decreases my sleep-related anxiety levels if I at least give myself a potential shot at a decent night's sleep. Laying awake for 3 hours starting at 11 doesn't feel as daunting as if I'm lying awake starting at 4am... there's a whole psychology behind it. Bottom line is, get to bed as early as you can even if it feels pointless!
- I force myself to get off any screens (tv, computer, phone) about an hour before I plan to go to bed. There have been plenty of studies showing that it stimulates your brain even if you don't directly feel it.
- What's really helpful is creating a bedtime routine. For me, once I shut all screens off, I take a nice hot shower, brush my teeth, etc etc. Then I make myself camomile tea (it really helps me relax and sleep! you should try it, seriously) and sit up in bed with a good book while I drink it. I don't leave any particularly bright lights on, just a small one by my bed. I've only just started doing this, but it's already made a massive difference.
- Once I turn off my light, I get comfortable and close my eyes. My main problem with insomnia is that I can't seem to shut my mind up, it's like night-time/darkness welcomes all of my dark thoughts and memories. The reason I ultimately stay awake is because I start trying to shut myself up - but I realized that's where I've been going wrong! So now, instead, I take a deep breath and let all of my thoughts come to the front of my mind. Then I picture myself pushing them out of sight one by one. It works surpsingly well.
- Once I picture my mind being blank, I keep focusing on that while counting from 1 to 5 over and over. The reason this works better than just continuously counting is that your brain has to consciously make an effort to go back to 1. Because of that small effort, you're much less likely to start focusing on other thoughts.
- I also realized that as it gets later, I start thinking so negatively. Without realizing it, I basically tell myself that I'm screwed, that I won't get any sleep and that it'll never change. That's a huuuuge contributor to my insomnia. So I try to be aware of my thinking pattern and do my best to change it.
I hope some of this helped! Great thread by the way