For many, the most difficult problem about sleeping is feeling that there is very little they can do to help themselves fall (or fall back) asleep.

Laying in bed when sleep won’t come and wondering what to do won’t help. Instead, follow a checklist of things that help. Come up with your own, or try remembering your “ABCVs”:

To interrupt unproductive thoughts or simply to start bringing sleep closer, make a very simple positive affirmation such as “This feels soft”. Or warm, cool, whatever. So A is for Affirm.

Then concentrate gently on your breathing, do part or all of a breathing exercise, or chant a vowel inwardly such as “uuuuu”. There are plenty of apps and exercises out there. Try some, and bring your newfound skills into the bedroom. B is for Breathe.

Next, focus on a happy moment, not with forced concentration, but with a gentle contemplative focus. C is for Contemplate.

V is for Visualize, but really means imagine images. Imagine movement or color or temperature or sound from a pre-planned scene you chose beforehand (YouTube has lot of “relaxing nature” scenes, or happy puppies/kittens, etc, etc if you’re looking for ideas). Many people report the last thing they remember before sleeping is fleeting glimpses of dream-like imagery… before actually beginning to dream. Putting your attention on imagery helps this happen easier.

S is for Sound. At first, try listening to the loudest sound in your environment, then the second-loudest sound and so forth until you notice the gentle rushing/ringing sound that is always there once you learn to notice it. If are good at noticing it, try remembering the last time it was louder than normal, and it may get louder in this moment as well.

Finally, at any point you realize you are no longer in the process, start with the short affirmation again to keep more anxious thoughts at bay.

Avoid all light for awhile before bed, even if your device is using warm night light —you need some time without any light for your body systems to do their best job of putting you to sleep. Trazadone, Sominex (diphenhydramine), and large doses of melatonin (5mg or more) are helpful for a more “emergency” kind of situation, but remember to take standardized extract of Milk Thistle and possibly some SALG (S-Acetyl L-Glutathione) to help the sleep aids move through your system faster to limit drowsiness in the morning.

If you do get up in the middle of the night, try to notice or make a good guess as to when you woke up, and get back in bed before much over two hours have passed — your body is going to help you get back to sleep more around the two-and-a-half hour point after waking from short sleep.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Sleep involves, in part, not staying in bed if you aren’t falling asleep. It’s a hard program for most people to follow, but fairly successful for those who do. The ABCVs can help you whether or not you are using CBT, sleep aids or other approaches.

Get some rest!