I do the same sleep ritual every night. It's comforting, in the same way that people's religious rituals are comforting. Here is that ritual:
1. Two to four hours before my likely bedtime, I ride my exercise bike for 30 minutes. That way, after the immediate energizing effect of exercise has worn off, I will have tired myself.
2. I do not have a fixed bedtime. When I start to feel tired (That varies within a one-hour range), I head downstairs from my home-office, brush my teeth and get undressed.
3. Like a hibernating bear, I keep the bedroom cool, which lowers your metabolic rate, making you more likely to sleep.
4. I hop into bed with my wife (or a stuffed dog when she's not there) on one side, and my real dog, Einstein, curled up against me on the other.
5. I read pleasant things that close down my brain: for example, a gardening mail order catalog, mutual fund report, or the book 14,000 Things to be Happy About.
6. When I feel myself getting quite tired, on my bedside CD player, I play the CD: Through a Dog's Ear: Music to Calm Your Canine Companion. Developed to calm hyper dogs, it also calms me. It's classical piano music that has been slowed down and simplified. I rarely change the CD. Its familiarity is part of the ritual.
7. I turn out the light and envision something pleasant: usually my strolling along a tree-shaded creek, picturing and then rating every plant in my garden, or simply monitoring my breathing, thinking: "In with the good air; out with the bad."
8. If I get up in the middle of the night (rare), I think to myself, "Perhaps my body is telling me I don't need to sleep." (That reduces any anxiety about not getting enough sleep.) But I know I probably do need more sleep, so I repeat steps 6 and 7 above.
I hope that at least one aspect of my ritual, if not the entire one, is useful to you. Post here to let me know, or if you have other suggestions that might help my sleepless in Seattle or wherever readers.