For many years, I had a very hard time sleeping--a harder time than anybody else that I knew. However, I discovered the "secrets" of how to sleep, and ever since then, as long as I apply them consistently, I sleep well. The "secrets" of sleep are:
- One must generally eat well. In simple terms, this means complete proteins at every meal and a decent amount of vegetables. One should research which foods or combinations of foods provide complete proteins. As far as vegetables go, if I don't have a salad every other day, my sleep schedule can start to get wonky. The fresher the vegetables, the better they work. (I've always had a particularly good result with the salad bar at Whole Foods, although one doesn't have to be that extreme to have the vegetables "work".)
- It's important never to let your body reach the point of starvation for a long period, during the day. In my experience, this seems to modify the body's systems in a way that makes it difficult to sleep at night, even after you've handled the starvation.
- I often have trouble sleeping if I don't get off the computer three hours before bedtime.
- If it is getting close to bed time and I'm still on the computer or my attention still feels "fixed", then I have to do the process described in the chapter "Exhaustion" in The Problems of Work by L. Ron Hubbard. If I don't do that process and I was on the computer later than I should have been, or my attention was "fixed" on something, then I often don't sleep well or at all.
- I take a set of vitamins every day that helps with my sleep and general energy. It's the set described in Clear Body, Clear Mind by L. Ron Hubbard. In particular, once a day I personally take:
- 10,000 IU Vitamin A
- 250mg Vitamin B1
- 500mg Vitamin C
- 400 IU Vitamin D
- 800 IU Vitamin E
- A 100mg B Complex tablet (It's particularly important that it contain folic acid)
- Two multi-mineral tablets
- Sometimes, I then also take an additional 100mg or 200mg of Niacin, and it seems to help a lot with sleep. But if it's working, it will almost certainly cause you to turn red and itch for some period of time, so you want to take it well before you're actually going to go to bed. (The turning red and itching is shorter if you exercise right after taking the vitamins, to get your metabolism up.) Also, some people get a sort of "stomach burn" from Niacin, but I think that's because they weren't well-fed (or didn't eat enough vegetables) before taking the Niacin.
I've also found that it's important to take them before 6pm, if I plan to fall asleep around 12am. The vitamins can sometimes increase my energy levels and make it hard to sleep if I just took them. However, it's also important not to take it too early, because then the effects will be gone by the time I go to sleep. So taking them with a meal between 3pm and 6pm is usually the best.
- Every night, about an hour before bed, I drink a Cal-Mag Solution. The particular one I linked to there tastes decent, if you're concerned about the taste.
- If I have "racing thoughts" or nightmares, I take extra Vitamin B1 (between 100mg and 500mg) and that handles it pretty quickly.
- If I am lying in bed and I'm not tired, I get out of bed. One of the worst things you can do is try to stay in bed and sleep when you're not tired enough to sleep. What happens, at least for me, is that I then never get tired enough to sleep, because I'm lying in bed.
- If you are on the computer and it's very late at night, you might think that you aren't tired when actually you are. There's something about the computer that causes people to not be aware of how tired or hungry they are, as long as they are on it. Try walking away from the computer for about 10 minutes or so, if you're concerned about this.
- In order to sleep, the body needs to produce a hormone called melatonin. To produce melatonin, your body needs at least iron and B vitamins. It also needs tryptophan, but that's just a part of protein, so if you're eating enough protein, you should have enough tryptophan. For me, if I take tryptophan supplements, I'm tired all through the next day, so I don't take them.
I generally don't recommend taking melatonin supplements, because that's an attempt to replace the body's normal melatonin production. This means that for a little while, the supplement will work excellently, but it will work less and less well over time. Also, once you stop taking the melatonin, you will have an even harder time falling asleep than you used to, for a few days. (For me, I have a really hard time falling asleep on the third night after I took the melatonin.)
- It's somewhat important to drink enough water throughout the day. I have a hard time sleeping if I'm dehydrated. This point is less important than some of the other, above points, though. Note that one must have adequate salt and potassium in one's system in order for the body to absorb water properly.
- If you can, try not to fall asleep in the middle of the day. Try to only sleep at night. Sleeping during the middle of the day can throw off your sleep schedule.
Many people have also told me that exercise is important to sleeping, but I haven't found it necessary. Exercise is certainly important to living, though. And I have found that it helps with sleep, to have actually used one's body a fair amount during the day, as long as one doesn't strenuously exercise in the last few hours before bed.
If one does all of the above, one should generally be able to sleep at night. There are a few other things that can prevent sleep, though. If you are doing all of the above and still can't sleep at night, tell me what's going on in the comments and I'll see if I can help.