2.) Candles arent just for sex, intimate dinner, and when the lights go out. What sleep specialists will tell you is to avoid bright light sources before sleep. That includes the bright bathroom light you have on while you're getting ready for bed, the television, bedroom lights, etc. I carry a lit candle or battery-operated candle with me and turn out all the lights in preparation to get the house ready for bed too. I shower by candlelight, brush teeth, etc, carry the candle back with me to bed, blow it out or turn it off and hop into bed. (You may want to leave the smoking candle outside your bedroom door if you can safely do so (kids, pets) so you wont have to smell the blown-out wick's smoke while trying to go to sleep (the battery variety is a good workaround for that). Candlelit shower sex, btw, with your partner, is hot. That's what I'll blog on next time. This sounds hokey to some of you, but it works. It gives your eyes and brain the caveperson environment it wants to make melatonin: very low light. I go to sleep so much faster doing this -and- with a big redux in brain/thought chatter that keeps you awake.
3.) When you first get the yawns, quickly bring what you're doing to a close, turn out the lights, and fire up the candle or two. Start getting ready for bed then. We habitually push past this crucial moment, failing to take advantange of it for falling asleep faster and also earlier. We push through this opportunity that is the body's clock signaling that you've been awake long enough. It's sleepytime. We ignore it or drink coffee and push through and wake back up again. Then by 2am or 3am, our bodies will try again. You know the rest. Getting up early is when you can get back to what you were doing. I sometimes make notes of what I was dealing with when I start getting the yawns and then close things up so when I restart the next morning, I won't be so out of place.
4.) Use a good sleep mask. I the one from www.magellanans.com. It is bubbled over your eyes so that you dont have that annoying pressure against your eyeballs which interferes with REM cycles and makes your body more often pull the mask off during the night. For me, it's especially helpful to block out all light sources while I'm trying to go to sleep and then in the morning after I wake up to go to the bathroom and I want to go back to sleep. You can also get blackout drapes for your windows, which I like too, but are more expensive than this sleep mask. This mask is also great for sex when you want a blindfold because you can't see down under the bottom of it and it's comfortable for your eyes.