Set yourself up for a good night sleep, by planning the “wind-down” process earlier. Think of getting a three year old ready for bed. This means avoiding rigorous exercise late in the evening. Avoid mental stimulation, such as business planning or television (just the emissions from a television stimulate the brain and can be enough to keep you wide awake for hours). Avoid other obvious stimulants such as sugar or caffeinated drinks.
If you’re really stressed, I have two additional recommendations. One, pull out a sheet of paper and write down all the key thoughts running rampant in your mind. Writing them down, slows the mind down. And, it serves as a placeholder to pick them up in the morning.
Secondly, stretching can be your biggest friend, particularly deep forward bends. Simply sit on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you. Lean forward and try to touch your toes. You can also stand and lean over to touch the toes (you don’t have to touch your toes for this to be effective). Deep forward bends compress the spine which causes the body to relax. You can also try “Half Tortoise” or “Rabbit” posture (Google it or ask your local yoga instructor to demonstrate).
BTW, these deep forward bends were the ONLY thing that finally worked the night before my wedding. I only wish I’d done them sooner, so I could’ve had a few more hours of sleep!