Lack of sleep plagues our society, and there are many reasons for it.
1) There are the physical causes.
As people age, the pineal gland at the base of the brain begins to shrink, producing less melatonin, the hormone that tells the brain to shut off and fall into sleep.
The less melatonin, the more difficult a good night's rest becomes.
One major solution is to buy a melatonin supplement, available at pharmacies and supermarkets everywhere, unless there's a medical reason not to. This can be a real wonderworker, at three to five milligrams before bed and in the middle of the night if needed. They even come in chewable form. (We've been using melatonin, a natural substance, for years; it can make the difference between a great day and a sluggish, difficult one.)
It's best to try natural things before taking anything artificial. Honey, chamomile tea, kale, shrimp, hummus, lettuce, tuna fish, and even cheese (this latter in moderation; it's very fatty and salty, and can cause stomach acid, having the opposite effect and keeping you up) can help before sleep or as part of dinner. Of these natural items, perhaps nothing is more effective than tart cherry juice (it must say "tart"), which works very quickly.
Try not to eat just before bed -- give yourself at least three hours before bed for the full-blown meal -- and stay away from foods that produce stomach acid (if you need Tums on your nightstand, your diet needs adjustment, posthaste).
2) Making sure your room is dark is very important, because when there's light in a room, it can falsely signal the body that it's morning and cause the body, reacting to that message, to stop producing melatonin.
Even LED lights from cell phones, computers, tablets, or alarm clocks can inhibit sleep without your knowing that. Invest in darkening shades if too much light comes through a window.
This is very important. Also, find a good pillow.
3) Then there are the emotional and psychological factors.
Don't let worries carry you away.
As Jesus said (Matthew 6:25-27), "
As Christ added: don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Try -- hard as it might be -- to live in the present (that's what eternity is). Heed not the rancor of the day.
Worry obviously deters sleep, keeping us rocking and rolling, side to side, as the mind goes on like a broken record. The best way of handling that is not counting sheep, but "counting" Hail Marys or praises to Jesus. Picture yourself resting your head on the lap of the Blessed Mother, or in the arms of Christ (the Prince of Peace).
Psalm 37:8 goes further: "Fret not; it only tends to evil." In other words, worry (which is a lack of faith) energizes darkness.
That brings us to the third major reason for insomnia -- which of course can strike at any age: spiritual harassment.
We are most vulnerable when we are asleep, and so prayer and reading the Bible before bed greatly help and are important -- actually, crucial -- in warding off spiritual attack.
We must start sleep with prayer on our lips, and pray as soon as we awaken.
One way demons attack is by draining your energy. They want you tired. When you're tired, you can't think as well; your emotions are skewed; you are easier to discourage and deceive.
They may also send your dreams that create anxiety. Learn to eradicate those with prayer; stop the broken record of anxious internal dialogue.
Many are those who find themselves awake right around three a.m., when the "veil" seems thin. All the better time to pray without ceasing.
In extreme cases, folks experience "night terrors" or "sleep paralysis," the latter whereby they awaken but find their bodies frozen in place, or feel a force on their chests, literally and physically oppressing them (while terrors can involve an experience with a demonic entity).
The Name of Jesus dispatches that instantly; and His Name as our "mantra" prevents it in the first place. We see all the artistic depictions of demons coming to a sleeping person. Before bed, seal yourself with Christ. Obedience to God's Plan brings restfulness. Bless your "enemies." Strife is worthless.
Replace worry with prayer. Talk directly -- personally -- with Jesus. Turn not back and forth, while seeking sleep, like a door on a hinge; that's for the sluggard, not you, says Scripture (Proverbs 26:14). You don't need that anxiety. Shed what causes it. Shed jealousy and those who are envious. Nor take to bed wrath. Ephesians says "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry" (4:26). Who can sleep with that?
What a great window into the spiritual is the middle of the night, when, perhaps after a shot of cherry juice, or a dose of melatonin, if needed, we connect directly with the Lord, Who favors us with sleep and can bring a refreshing slumber even if we can't sleep until an hour or so before the alarm clock is set to buzz.
In fact, have your angel be your alarm clock.
Set that alarm and ask the Lord and the Blessed Virgin, in the minutes that remain, to pack in all the restfulness you need. You'll be amazed at how that will work for you. A little modification of a prayer: "Hail Queen of Mercy, protect us from the enemy and receive us at the hour of sleep. Amen."