I absolutely know that I should go to bed earlier and try to get 8 or 9 hours of sleep a night. That's both what feels ideal for me personally and consistent with the notion that adequate sleep keeps cortisol in check and promotes health. My 8am self is acutely aware of this. But, my 12am self always wants to stay up and read the news, watch a movie, cook, finishing some reading for class, clean the apartment, etc. Any suggestions for motivating myself to go to sleep earlier?
No computer or TV screen after 6pm (actually, throw out our TV-set)
No bright lights at all.
Pen and paper next to your bed to write down any ideas or problems that occupy your brain.
A good book that really engages your mind (fiction! The problem with non-fiction/specialist literature is that it tends to wake up my "work" brain which, in turn, will start racing on and on).
Having something "real" to work on after work (knitting, handicraft work, playing an instrument etc) really relaxes the mind and the feeling of accomplishment creates a feeling of peace and helps a lot (I do 95% computer-based work during the day and the awareness that all I create is just "virtual", however valuable it might be, is very disturbing for me, coming from a craftsman family)
No food after... 6pm (most of the time).
A really, really, really comfortable bed.
No noise in the bedroom.
All of these steps improved my sleep quality and I'm still working on improvements.
Turn out the lights and do something until the melatonin sets in. Meditation, listening to music, a podcast, etc. Just so long as it doesn't involve light. Back in the old days when the sun would go down that would be the signal for the pineal gland to ramp up melatonin production and make us go to sleep, since you really can't do anything outside when it gets dark. There were no streetlights and a campfire only helps so much.
Says Stabby on his computer at 11pm...
I use f.lux to limit the blue light from my computer. But the clincher is that I read to and cuddle my children. Puts me right to sleep, even when it doesn't work on them.
I can't pull this off every night, but the nights that I'm able to not turn my computer on (at all) after work and then knit or crochet for a half hour to an hour, it makes me want to go straight to bed halfway through that knitting or crocheting. I think it has something to do with the relaxing monotony, plus the close work making my eyes tired. I'm usually watching a movie while I knit or crochet, so if you have some sort of close work hobby, you might want to try combining the two.
Just this week we switched our living room lights over to amber light bulbs (marked for ceiling fan use, but they fit fine in our lamps) and bought black out curtains for our bedroom. I was already falling asleep early because of the close work and lack of internet, but those changes seem to help too.
For me, the real trigger is the internet. If I don't allow myself any access at all, I get the cooking and some cleaning done much earlier, and then can relax with a movie, book, and/or close work.
Let me add to Dr. K's excellent post: - Install F.Lux on your computer (use 'Tungsten' setting).
An alternative to shutting off the lights completely: Only use candlelight for the last 2/3 hours.
People have mentioned Yoga Nidra before going to bed.
Try to finish eating as early as possible, since food intake increases testosteron production which in turn decreases melatonin production. Although this seems to be different for different folks.
Go meditate and/or read some fiction before going to bed, and stay away from non-fiction/study/sciency/work related/logical-thinking type of stuff. (I think Tim Ferriss mentioned this).
Turn off all electronic devices in your bedroom.
I don't think this will work for you, but what you asked is how I go to bed earlier.
I go to bed with my daughter at 9pm most nights. We watch tv until 9:30 and then it is time to turn the tv off. Sleeping next to her keeps me very still because I want her to fall asleep also, so I tend to sleep much better with her than without her. On the nights I sleep by myself I do the whole mind racing thing and driving myself crazy and NOT sleeping. It's just comforting to have her there with me.
We are trying to actually transition her out of this habit though, she's 9 and it's just not necessary. My husband used to work nights away from home, but now he works nights from home and it's tough for me to be in bed at 9pm every night. I do wake up at 4:30/5am though. Sleep is a tough subject for me. I know my situation is not optimal, but I don't really ever feel like I'm not getting enough sleep.
Audiobooks. Pop on some Hitchens, Harris, or Dawkins, and I'm out within 15 minutes. The more interested I am, the faster I fall to sleep. I think it has something to do with thinking very hard about what's being said, while they're still talking. It's a bit hypnotic, puts me right out.
I've started wearing amber safety glasses around the house in the evening to filter out the blue light. Don't know if it's helping yet, but they were cheap and my self control is low re: bedtime. Actually going upstairs helps too: I'm working on that one.
I agree with Stabby. For me podcasts work very well. I import a few favorites, and then listen to them in bed, lights off. I really look forward to going to sleep now. It's so pleasant and relaxing, I fall asleep like a baby, they really work like bed-time stories. But remember to switch the device off...