How do you shut your brain off when trying to sleep?

What’s been a drag for me lately is that I like to read. I read before bed. But when I go to bed now, I’m asleep in about a minute.

A lot of that has to do with the hours that my Wife and I keep. We get up between 3:30 and 4:30 am. No alarms or anything. We just do.

I’ve been doing what @iiandyiiii is doing for years, too. Concocting a story. But it’s more like a tv show with several seasons I guess. It’s not a very compelling story, not something I’d ever write out. And it hasn’t progressed much, as I keep going back to the beginning (re-runs?) but I’ve been with these characters in this situation for at least 15 years. I had a different set of characters in a different story, when I was younger, before I bought my house.

Story time is for when I REALLY can’t fall asleep, though. My regular sleep routine for the past decade or so is watching a mystery show and just drifting off. I turn my back to the screen and I find that having to concentrate on listening to the dialogue while imagining the scenes in my head is plenty enough to put me to sleep.

I took a couple of years and went through every episode of Law & Order to help me sleep, like @Dereknocue67 . I found that I could stay awake for the police part and get to know all the characters, then turn away from the screen and fall asleep to the court scenes.

The dulcet tones of the narrator on Forensic Files puts me right to sleep. It doesn’t matter that he’s talking about murder and mayhem - if I put the volume low, it’s a sure fire way to a nap on the couch.

(College football seeks to do the same thing to me. I routinely miss the 2nd and 3d quarters due to a snooze)

As for at night, I’ve recently tried to stretch before bed. I’ve found it useful for relaxing my body, and is conducive to drifting off.

I usually listen to a podcast or a TV show that I am familiar with. Another Time Team fan here.

If I’m not in the mood for that, I’ll try replaying a pleasant walk that I had taken recently, like around the lake or through a museum.

Sometimes, I’ll do math problems, like finding strings of primes in arithmetic progression, or checking the Goldbach conjecture. I haven’t found a counterexample yet, but if I do, you all will be the first to know.

A friend of mine used to routinely nap while golf was on TV. No loud bursts of noise.

Read, watch videos, listen to audiobooks or podcasts, or masturbate while coming up with sexual fantasies, until I am so tired I don’t have the energy for any of those. Often, I’ll set my audiobook player with a 30 minute timer, and wear bluetooth headphones and most of the time I’ll eventually just fall asleep. Basically do anything to keep my mind from wandering.

I have obstructive sleep apnea, and my CPAP seems to put me out pretty quickly most of the time – it has a little bit of noise, and the comforting movement of air that by now (23 years on) has my body programmed to sleep. If I don’t drop right off, then I mull over things in my mind that are comforting, like sex.

Maybe 3 or 4 times a month, I will not be able to go back to sleep after getting up to pee, usually in the 3am-4am range. If nothing works, I get out of bed, turn on a low light and go over to my computer to waste time until I tire myself out. This usually takes an hour or less. I may need to snooze an extra 10 minutes after my alarm goes off, but usually effects are minimal. I know you’re not supposed to look at backlit screens, but my blue light filtered glasses seem to take care of that.

Find a good podcast. Someone with a soothing voice. Here’s two:

Nothing much happens

The essential guide to writing a novel

If I had my druthers I’d have a college basketball game on a bedroom tv. The rhythms of it with my eyes closed are very relaxing, especially since I’m almost never vested in the outcome.

As it is I rely on an ongoing sequence of simple permutations and combinations. After doing it for so long I think my brain recognizes them as the signal to shut down.