Winding down/Helping your body know it's sleep time
The basic idea here is that your body naturally produces melatonin to help you get to sleep. But your body is using the ambient light to determine that it's night/that you should be winding down. So with artificial "sunlight" in the form of lamps and screens, your body may not be getting the right cues. Here are some things that might help:
The available dosage for melatonin is all over the map. The people I know and trust recommend less than 1mg. This is 30% of a mg.
(there are mixtures like "Dreamwater" that also include 5-HTP and GABA, or OLLY Gummies with L Theanine, chamomile, & lemon Balm) but products like this tend to use >1mg of Melatonin, so I recommend DIY)
Update: I spent ages not being able to sleep through the night (but for whatever reason not taking more melatonin when I’d wake up, so I’d just lie there for hours) and then read about the possibility of the drop in that initial melatonin boost triggering you to wake up. So I now take 300mcg of melatonin in a 6hr time release tablet and it seems to have solved the problem.
I take a melatonin tablet with a small fizzy potion of powdered
I discovered these when trying to find some sort of cover to make the light from my kindle warmer (the new kindles have this built in, fyi). It's a pretty good general solution and they really seem to make me feel calmer/more relaxed. When I have to take them off to e.g. wash my face before bed, I feel like a pouty toddler. (people also reference this and flux when talking about reducing eye-strain from computer work)
There's a useful app for automatically shifting the color spectrum of your computer screen to be warmer during the evening hours:
In the accessibility menu in iOS, you can use a triple tap of the home button (or double tap of the side button) to "reduce the white point" to make your phone darker than it goes by default with the brightness gauge in the control center.
Circadian rhythms are important; if you live with someone else, try to agree on a sleep schedule and hold one another accountable by e.g. turning off computers at the same time every night and helping them to be up in the morning by having a set breakfast date.
"Downtime" + do-not-disturb + App Limits — if this isn't effective, consider storing your phone and laptop in a room other than your bedroom.
Staying asleep/getting back to sleep
My sister lives in Europe and has adopted their penchant for airing out the bedroom right before bed, regardless of how cold it is outside. It’s nice to snuggle under the covers when it’s chilly and fresh air also seems good. If you use a space heater to keep your room temp constant overnight, I wouldn’t set it higher than 69F.
For jotting down "reminder" or "list" type thoughts that will be handled only by knowing that you won't forget them
On the iPhone, you can use "Downtime" to cut off access to all apps except for a few whitelisted exceptions, e.g. "Notes"
e.g. Thinking of gifts or other nice things you could do for friends and family, or thinking of the things you've discovered that might improve other people's lives 🙃
So that you won't wake up to pee and then have trouble falling back asleep. (If you’re a dude, consider using a pee bottle to minimize necessary alertness.)
If you do feel the urge to go, experiment with not. It may seem counterintuitive because you might think it's better to empty your bladder to be able to sleep through the night without further interruption, but I personally have found that my digestive system essentially hibernates during the night/when I'm sleeping and there's almost a "breaking the seal" phenomenon where if I pee once during the night, I'm more likely to pee more than once. (Though it's also the case that if I spend a long period of time awake in the night, I'm much more likely to need to pee — where I'm assuming my digestive system is essentially also "awake." So it could be that my data is being affected by that first wakeup affecting how deeply and quickly I get back to sleep).
If you’re worried about holding it too long: I recently read that you should be spending about 20 seconds per pee (obviously that can’t really be a proper “should,” but I never had any point of reference before, so seems good to add).
This is maybe the weirdest and least rational of the bunch, but when I was in a really really tough spot and basically couldn’t sleep, a very dear friend sent me a link to an 8hr track of “sleep music” that’s supposed to play at a frequency that supports deep sleep. I have no idea whether there’s anything to it, but maybe having a weird supportive thing recommended by a loved one is magical all by itself 🤷♀️
So I’m sending this to you and I hope that it helps you when you need it 🤗