Reporter has collected advice on the matter from a number of sleep experts. Along with the usual suggestions of getting out of bed and doing a mentally undemanding activity, or deep breathing, one piece of advice from author David K. Randall involves preparation long before you get under the sheets:
“Getting more sun exposure in the midmorning can help readjust the brain’s internal clock and make it easier to fall asleep later that night. In my book, I write about how sun exposure is now a key part of many professional athletes’ travel schedules, and seen as a way of preventing jet lag. Non-athletes can do similar things. Someone who can’t seem to fall asleep at night may want to try getting as much exposure to natural light in the morning, essentially prepping themselves to fall asleep when they want to.”
It’s easy to forget that there’s more to sleep than lying down and shutting your eyes — your body’s internal systems play a large role and working with, rather than against them, can pay dividends when you really have to sleep. While we want a quick fix when insomnia hits, the reality is that a long-term approach is your best bet if your sleeping problems are chronic.
Finally, if all else fails, Brown located the following tidbit:
Kill a sheep, and then press its steaming lungs on either side of the head. Keep the lungs in place as long as they remain warm. (From 16th-century French surgeon Ambroise Paré.)
A last resort, perhaps? Might be hard to find an emergency sleep sheep in the middle of the night.