2005_03_ask_sleep.jpgI can't sleep - I've been up all night for weeks. I've been to my doctor who gave me sleeping pills, but they don't work - I still can't sleep. Please help!

Ask Gothamist understands - we had insomnia for years. We're sure your doctor is your best source of information, but having said that, we do have a few tips for inducing sleepiness:

*If you smoke, quit.
*You have to cut back on caffeine. It's a vicious cycle - you can't sleep, you drink more coffee, you can't sleep. You might feel worse in the short term without a heavy dose of caffeine, but once you break the cycle, it will help. Also, drink lots of water.
*Exercise - Any sort of vigorous exercise is great for helping with getting enough sleep - just make sure not to it right before bedtime.
We also find yoga classes/videos helpful - you can get Yoga videos that are specifically labeled "relaxing," "PM Yoga" and such.
*Try having a relaxing beverage before bedtime, like a cup of non-caffeinated herbal tea (chamomile is known for its relaxing properties). Some people swear by milk (especially warm milk), and others say having one drink (like a glass of wine) works well. Just make sure to keep it to one glass and not have it too close to bedtime (try about an hour beforehand).
*Don't eat late at night - try to eat dinner at a reasonable hour and don't snack before bed. Also, make sure you eat enough at dinner so that you're not hungry and thinking about food at bedtime.
*If your room is noisy, try listening to soothing music with headphones or using a noise machine.
*Try to establish a routine of going to bed at the same time each night, and doing the same things while getting ready for bed. Turn off the TV and the computer, which stimulate you and can make you stay awake.
*Do you have a pet? We find that snuggling with our cats, who spend approximately 90% of their time sleeping, always makes us tired. It's almost impossible to stay awake with a purring, sleeping cat on your lap.

We also found this handy list of 30 Simple Tips to Help You Get to Sleep. What are Ask Gothamist readers' favorite tips on inducing sleepiness?

Need advice? E-mail ask(at)gothamist(dot)com.